Unilever's corporate rejig may affect Indian-origin executives

The company plans to lay off 1,500 staff as part of the wider restructuring of its global operations.
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UK-headquartered consumer goods giant Unilever on Tuesday announced a major organisational shakeup to make the company leaner, which involves some of its Indian-origin executives, and plans to lay off 1,500 staff as part of the wider restructuring of its global operations.

Sanjiv Mehta retains executive leadership of Mumbai-headquartered subsidiary Hindustan Unilever, while Unilever Chief Operating Officer (COO) Nitin Paranjpe will take on a new role as Chief Transformation Officer & Chief People Officer, leading the business transformation and heading the HR function for the transformed organisation. The company said Sunny Jain, President of Beauty & Personal Care, has decided to leave Unilever to set up an investment fund in technology megatrends.

A lean Unilever Corporate Centre will continue to set Unilever's overall strategy, the company said. The worldwide changes are part of the company's move away from its current matrix structure to be organised around five distinct business groups: Beauty & Wellbeing, Personal Care, Home Care, Nutrition, and Ice Cream. Each Business Group will be fully responsible and accountable for their strategy, growth, and profit delivery globally, the company said.

Our new organisational 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, said Unilever CEO Alan Jope.

Moving to five category-focused Business Groups will enable us to be more responsive to consumer and channel trends, with crystal-clear accountability for delivery. Growth remains our top priority and these changes will underpin our pursuit of this, he said.

The maker of Dove soap and Pond's in India has also confirmed plans to cut 1,500 jobs under the wider shakeup of its global operations.

The proposed new organisation model will result in a reduction in senior management roles of around 15 per cent and more junior management roles by 5 per cent, equivalent to around 1,500 roles globally. Changes will be subject to consultation. We do not expect factory teams to be impacted by these changes, the company said.

The firm, which employs 149,000 worldwide and 6,000 of them in the UK and Ireland, has not revealed exactly where the job cuts would be made.

The move is seen as a response to shareholders' concerns about performance in the business and followed a failed takeover bid for GlaxoSmithKline's consumer healthcare division.

All costs related to setting up the new organisation will be managed within existing restructuring investment plans, the company said.

The five Business Groups will be supported by Unilever Business Operations, which will provide the technology, systems, and processes to drive operational excellence across the business.

Among the appointments effective from April this year, Fernando Fernandez, EVP Latin America, has been appointed President of Beauty & Wellbeing, which includes Hair Care, Skin Care, as well as Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements, and Unilever Prestige.

Fabian Garcia, President North America, has been appointed President Personal Care, responsible for Skin Cleansing, Deodorants, and Oral Care.

Peter ter Kulve will continue in his role as President Home Care, responsible for Fabric Care, Home & Hygiene, and Water & Air.

Hanneke Faber, President Foods & Refreshment, has been appointed President Nutrition, which will be home to Scratch Cooking, Healthy Snacking, Functional Nutrition, Plant-Based Meat, and Food Solutions. Matt Close, EVP Ice Cream, has been appointed President Ice Cream, a Business Group in its own right.

Reginaldo Ecclissato, Chief Supply Chain Officer, will lead the Supply Chain and Unilever Business Operations as Chief Business Operations Officer.

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