Unilever slashes 1,500 jobs in huge corporate shake-up

By Becky Bargh 25-Jan-2022

The Dove and Hourglass Cosmetics owner has confirmed that it will reduce its headcount as pressure mounts for better earnings

Unilever acquired premium cosmetics brand Hourglass in 2017

Unilever, the UK-based personal care and consumer goods group, has slashed its workforce numbers by 20% in a fresh corporate overhaul.

Around 15% of senior management jobs are expected to be axed, as well as 5% of its junior management teams, resulting in the loss of 1,500 jobs globally.

Unilever has also laid out plans for its portfolio restructure, which now includes five categories, instead of its original three.

The new groups will be made up of: Beauty & Wellbeing, Personal Care, Home Care, Nutrition and Ice Cream.

To match its new category groups, Unilever has made multiple changes to its top level positions.

Most significantly, Sunny Jain, President of Beauty & Personal Care has stepped away from the business to set up an investment fund for technology megatrends.

“Our new organisation mode has been developed over the last year and is designed to continue the step-up we are seeing in the performance of the business,” said 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.”

Jope has faced significant pressure from shareholders to turnaround Unilever’s business model amid a fluctuating negative trend in share price.

Unilever’s plans, meanwhile, were not totally unexpected, following the group’s announcement earlier this month that the business would be undertaking a “major initiative” to enhance its performance.

The hit to Unilever’s staff numbers comes days after it emerged that the hedge fund of American businessman Nelson Peltz, Trian Partners, had picked up a stake in the personal care group.

Peltz, a billionaire investor, is known for streamlining other consumer corporations, including Unilever’s competitor Procter & Gamble, and is a fierce activist for pushing his strategic agenda.

His arrival, however, saw a bounceback in Unilever’s share price, which fell 7% last week, following a failed attempt to take over GSK’s consumer health business.

The £50bn offer – said to be Unilever’s third for the group – was rejected by the UK-based company, holding out for a higher bid.

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In a statement days later, Unilever said it would not raise its offer.

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