Company at a Glance
Type : Public
Founded : Merger of Lever Brothers and Margarine Unie
Headquarters : London and Rotterdam
Key people : Michael Treschow, Patrick Cescau
Industry : Manufacturing (foods, home and personal care)
Revenue : €39.642 billion (2006)
Operating income : €5.408 billion (2006)
Net income : €5.015 billion (2006)
Employees : 179 000
Website : http://www.unilever.com/
About The Company
Unilever is a multi-national corporation, formed of Anglo-Dutch parentage, that owns many of the world’s consumer product brands in foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. Unilever employs nearly 180,000 people and had a worldwide revenue of almost €40 billion, or just over US$50 billion, in 2005 (58.5 billion as of 2008).
Unilever has two parent companies: Unilever NV in Rotterdam, and Unilever PLC in London. This arrangement is similar to that of Reed Elsevier, and that of Royal Dutch Shell prior to their unified structure. Both Unilever companies have the same directors and effectively operate as a single business. The current non-executive Chairman of Unilever N.V. and PLC is Michael Treschow while Patrick Cescau is Group Chief Executive. The company is widely listed on the world’s stock exchanges.
Food and beverages
|Ades or Adez – soya-based drinksAlsa – desserts and syrups
Amora – French mayonnaise and dressings
Annapurna – salt and wheat flour (India)
Becel – also known as Flora/Promise; health-aware: margarine, spreads, cooking oil, milk, fermented milk
Ben and Jerry’s – ice cream
Best Foods – mayonnaise, sandwich spreads, peanut butter and salad dressings
Bertolli – pasta sauces and olive oil (ambient/chilled & frozen)
Bifi – a mini salami
Blue Band – Family-aware: margarine, bread, cream alternatives
Bovril – beef extract
Breyers – ice cream
Brooke Bond – tea
Bru – instant coffee (India)
Bushells – tea (Australia, New Zealand)
Calvé – sauces, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, peanut butter
Capitan Findus – children’s frozen food
Conimex – Asian spices (Netherlands)
Colman’s – mustard
Continental – side dishes
Country Crock – margarine
|Du Darfst (Germany)Elmlea – Pourable cream available in different varieties (UK)
Findus – frozen foods (Italy, UK, Scandinavia)
Flora- margarine, light butter, jams
Gallo – olive oil
“Heartbrand” – ice cream (umbrella logo, <href=”#Heartbrand” title=”Unilever”>see below for national brands)
Hellmann’s – mayonnaise
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter – margarine spread
Imperial Margarine – margarine
Jif Lemon & Lime Juice
Karo – syrups
Kissan – Ketchups Squashes and Jams (Pakistan and India)
Klondike – Ice cream sandwiches
Knorr (Knorr-Suiza in Argentina) – sauces, stock cubes, ready-meals, meal kits, ready-soups, frozen food range
Lady’s Choice – mayonnaise, peanut butter and sandwich spreads (Philippines)
Lan-Choo – tea (Australia/New Zealand)
Lao Cai Seasoning
Lawry’s and Adolph’s
Lipton – tea
Lipton Ice Tea – ready-to-drink tea (partnership with PepsiCo)
Maille – French mustard
Maizena – corn starch
Mazola – edible oils
Marmite – yeast extract spread (except in Australia and New Zealand)
|Mc’ Collins – tea (Peru)Mrs. Filbert’s – margarine (USA)
Paddle pop – Icecream (Australia)
Pfanni – Bavarian potato mixes
PG Tips – tea (UK)
Phase – cooking oil
Planta – margarine
Popsicle – Frozen treats
Pot Noodle – cup noodles
Promise – see Becel/Flora
Ragú – pasta sauces
Rama – margarine
Royal – pastas (Philippines)
Red Rose Tea – tea (Canada)
Sana – Margarine (Turkey)
Saga – tea (Poland)
Scottish Blend – tea
Skippy – peanut butter
Slim·Fast – diet products
Sunlight Soap (Africa)
Streets (ice cream) (Australia/New Zealand)
Turun sinappi – mustard (Finland/Sweden)
Unilever Foodsolutions – professional markets (food service)
Unox – soups, smoked sausages
Vaqueiro – cooking margarine, cooking oil
Unilever was created in 1930 by the merger of British soapmaker Lever Brothers and Dutch margarine producer Margarine Unie, a logical merger as palm oil was a major raw material for both margarines and soaps and could be imported more efficiently in larger quantities.
In the 1930s, the business of Unilever grew and new ventures were launched in Latin America. In 1972, Unilever purchased A&W Restaurants A&W_(Canada) Canadian division but sold its shares through a management buyout to former A&W Food Services of Canada CEO Jeffrey Mooney in July 1995 . By 1980, soap and edible fats contributed just 40% of profits, compared with an original 90%. In 1984 the company bought the brands Brooke Bond (maker of PG Tips tea), Fabergé and Elizabeth Arden, but the latter was later sold (in 2000) to FFI Fragrances.
Unilever acquired Chesebrough-Ponds, the maker of Ragú, Pond’s, and Vaseline, in 1987, which strengthened its position in the world skin care market. In 2000, the company absorbed the American business Best Foods, strengthening its presence in North America and extending its portfolio of foods brands. In a single day in April 2000, it bought, ironically, both Ben & Jerry’s, known for its calorie-rich ice creams, and Slim Fast.
Today the company is fully multinational with operating companies and factories on every continent and research laboratories at Colworth and Port Sunlight in England; Vlaardingen in the Netherlands; Trumbull, Connecticut, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey in the United States; Bangalore in India (see also Hindustan Unilever Limited); Pakistan; and Shanghai in China. Its European IT infrastructure headquarters is based in Unity House, Ewloe in Flintshire, Wales.
The US division continued to carry the Lever Brothers name until the 1990s, when it adopted the parent company’s moniker. The American unit is now headquartered in New Jersey, and no longer maintains a presence at Lever House, the iconic skyscraper on Park Avenue in New York City.
Unilever has recently started a five year vitality company initiative in which it began to converge the marketing of disparate arms of their business, including personal care, dieting, and consumables into an umbrella function displaying the breadth of their contributions to personal vitality. This plan has been implemented because of the lack of brand recognition that Unilever wields, even despite its ubiquitous presence. In 2006, it concluded with the sell off of the global frozen foods division; excluding the ICF ice cream business, and the Italian frozen vegetables businesses.
The company publicly professes to take a strong stance on sustainability, as stated by its CEO, Patrick Cescau.. The company started a sustainable agriculture programme in 1998.. In May 2007, it became the first tea company to commit to sourcing all its tea in sustainable manner., asking the Rainforest Alliance, an international environmental NGO, to start certifying tea estates in East Africa. It declared its aim to have all Lipton Yellow Label and PG Tips tea bags sold in Western Europe certified by 2010, followed by all Lipton tea bags globally by 2015. Covalence, an ethical reputation ranking agency, placed Unilever at the top of its ranking based on positive versus negative news coverage for 2007.
Unilever’s status as a large multinational has attracted a variety of criticisms from political activists . For example, it has been criticised for causing environmental pollution by Greenpeace , for testing products on animals by PETA, and for making use of child labour , among others.
According to the Telegraph, Hindustan Unilever, was forced to withdraw television advertisements for its women’s skin-lightening cream, Fair and Lovely. Advertisements depicted depressed, dark-skinned women, who had been ignored by employers and men, suddenly finding new boyfriends and glamorous careers after the cream had lightened their skin.
There has been widespread criticism of Unilever by political advocates concerning the mixed messages being sent by the Axe marketing campaign (sexist) and the Dove marketing campaign (caring).Unilever’s response is that the Axe campaign is intended as a spoof of ‘the mating game’ and not meant to be taken literally.”
It has signed an agreement on 04/02/2008 to acquire leading Russian ice cream company Inmarko for an undisclosed amount.
14/11/2007: Unilever has signed a definitive agreement with McCormick & Company, Incorporated to sell its Lawry’s and Adolph’s branded seasoning blends and marinades business in the US and Canada for €410 million in cash.