Unilever Restructuring Into 5 Business Groups

Lisa Johnston
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Unilever is restructuring its organization into five business groups, prompting both new leadership and role reductions.

The new groups — beauty and wellbeing, personal care, home care, nutrition, and ice cream — will each be accountable for their own global strategy, growth, and profit delivery, with the new org a simplification of the company's current matrix structure. 

As part of this, Reginaldo Ecclissato, who was named chief supply chain officer last month, will become chief business operations officer, responsible for leading both the supply chain and the company’s business operations.

Nitin Paranjpe, currently chief operating officer, will assume the new role of chief transformation officer and chief people officer, overseeing its business transformation and HR functions.

[See also: Unilever Selling Tea Biz for $5 Billion]

The company is also cutting about 15% of senior management roles and 5% of more junior management roles, resulting in a reduction of about 1,500 roles. There will be no impact to factory teams. 

Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, said the new structure is expected to help the No. 4 consumer goods company react more quickly to consumer and channel trends while providing clear delivery accountability.

“Our new organizational model has been developed over the last year and is designed to continue the step-up we are seeing in the performance of our business. … Growth remains our top priority and these changes will underpin our pursuit of this,” he noted in a statement.

The groups will be supported by a central business operations unit, providing tech, systems and process support. The company, which last week abandoned plans to acquire GSK Consumer Healthcare, will also have a lean corporate center to oversee its overall strategy.

Ramsey Baghdadi, consumer analyst at research firm GlobalData, said the company would be better served by strengthening its current product ranges to reach new and existing customers, rather than diversifying into other sectors like healthcare. 

"Unilever has been flexible before," noted Baghdadi. "It quickly recognized emerging consumer behaviors such as working from home, for example, and was just as quick to react, with the likes of innovative channel strategies such as direct-to-consumer."

[See also: Unilever’s Social Commerce Playbook Adds New Start-up Platform]

Also as part of the changes, effective April 1:  

  • Fernando Fernandez, executive VP Latin America, will become president beauty and wellbeing, which includes hair care, skin care, vitamins, minerals and supplements, and prestige.
  • Fabian Garcia, president North America, has been named president personal care, responsible for skin cleansing, deodorants, and oral care.
  • Peter ter Kulve will remain president home care, responsible for fabric care, home and hygiene, and water and air.
  • Hanneke Faber, currently president foods and refreshment, has been named president nutrition, responsible for scratch cooking, healthy snacking, functional nutrition, plant-based meat, and food solutions.
  • Matt Close, executive VP ice cream, has been named president of the ice cream group.
  • Sunny Jain, currently president beauty and personal care, is leaving the company to establish an investment fund in technology megatrends, according to Unilever.

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