Feb 5, 2021

The shackles are off: Unilever goes for growth after UK move

Jope, a 36-year company veteran, argues that the politically sensitive unification will make Unilever, one of the world's largest consumer goods makers, a nimbler player in mergers and acquisitions markets so it can chase higher growth. Unilever has spent the past few months releasing ambitious climate and social targets, from net zero emissions in its supply chain by 2039 to ensuring all workers supplying the company receive a living wage by 2030. Commitments made when the group unified its structure had led to speculation about a larger spin-off: Unilever told the Dutch government that if it were to carve out its food division, that company would be Netherlands-based. Unilever, which is aiming to reach underlying annual sales growth of 3 to 5 per cent, compared with 1.9 per cent in 2020 and 2.9 per cent the year before, has traditionally been seen as slow-moving compared with harder-driving rivals such as Reckitt Benckiser. Sue Garrard, a former Unilever executive, said she agreed with Jope that "The world is going to be increasingly intolerant of businesses that sell you stuff at the price of trashing the planet".

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