Unilever CEO Hein Schumacher said billionaire activist and board member Nelson Peltz is «fully behind» a recently devised strategy to re-invigorate the company, even as some other investors remain sceptical after years of industry underperformance.
Schumacher told Reuters he wants Unilever, whose brands include Dove soap, Hellmann's condiments and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, to chart a «systematic» marketing strategy for its top brands.
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The 52-year-old Dutchman also said he will not shy away from streamlining Unilever's 127,000 workforce.
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His predecessor Alan Jope was criticized for allowing the group's brand portfolio to grow to around 400, leaving management with too little time to focus on its best performers.
Investors had also criticized Unilever for not recovering margins in the wake of the pandemic and, in some cases, for placing an unnecessary emphasis on sustainability. Fundsmith's Terry Smith, for instance, criticised Unilever for being «obsessed» with sustainability at the expense of performance.
When Unilever reported fourth quarter earnings last week, some investors and analysts criticized it for not regaining lost market share quickly enough and for letting margins slide.
Reports emerged in January 2022 that Peltz had been building a stake in Unilever through his Trian Partners investment fund, and he eventually took a seat on Unilever's board in July of that year. As of March 2023, the fund has a 1.45% stake in Unilever, LSEG data shows.