Unilever to cut 1,500 jobs in management shake-up

Unilever plans to axe about 1,500 management roles globally as the company faces pressure from investors to improve performance after a failed £50bn attempt to buy GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer health unit.

The proposals will lead to about 15 per cent of senior jobs and 5 per cent of more junior management roles being cut. The consumer goods group does not plan to cut factory jobs, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

It will also lose Sunny Jain, a well-known industry figure and president of its beauty and personal care division, who was hired from Amazon less than three years ago. Jain “has decided to leave Unilever to set up an investment fund in technology megatrends”, the group said.

The broader job cuts are part of a restructuring of the group that will divide Unilever into five business groups: beauty and wellbeing, personal care, home care, nutrition and ice cream.

Each unit of Unilever, which currently employs 149,000 people, will be accountable for strategy, growth and profit delivery.

“Our new organisational model has been developed over the past year and is designed to continue the step-up we are seeing in the performance of our business,” said chief executive Alan Jope.

Unilever made three bids for the consumer health division of GlaxoSmithKline, offering as much as £50bn, in a move that proved unpopular with many investors. It retreated last Wednesday, saying it would not raise its bid.

The Financial Times also reported this week that Nelson Peltz’s activist hedge fund Trian Partners has built a stake in Unilever. The $8.5bn New York-based hedge fund has previously pushed forward structural changes at consumer groups including Procter & Gamble and Kraft.

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