Unilever Dr (EU:UNA)
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By Saabira Chaudhuri
Unilever PLC on Thursday named Alan Jope as its next chief executive, turning to a company veteran to replace CEO Paul Polman at a crucial time for the consumer giant.
The appointment of Mr. Jope, a longtime Unilever executive who heads the beauty and personal care business, indicates the company's increased emphasis on building the higher-margin personal care unit will likely continue.
The job atop the maker of Dove soap and Hellmann's mayonnaise is one of the highest-profile posts in corporate Europe but comes with a raft of challenges that have buffeted makers of consumer-products.
The industry is grappling with changing consumer tastes, rising commodity costs, volatile emerging markets and fierce competition from Amazon.com Inc. and discount chains that are increasingly launching own-label products.
That turmoil has triggered an unprecedented series of CEO departures.
Unilever itself has been searching for new leadership for a year, hiring an executive search firm last November to help find a successor to Mr. Polman, who has led the company for a decade.
That effort had stepped up of late after Mr. Polman failed to win investor support for a move to consolidate the company's British and Dutch operating units and make Rotterdam its sole headquarters.
Mr. Jope, 54, was seen by analysts as a leading candidate to be Unilever's next CEO.
He has led the company's largest division since 2014 and regularly presents to investors. He previously has worked for the company in Asia and the U.S. after joining the company as a graduate marketing trainee in 1985.
My. Jope will start his new job as CEO on Jan. 1 with Mr. Polman staying on to assist with the transition through the first half of next year, the company said.
Under Mr. Polman's leadership, Unilever has shifted more toward faster-growing segments in personal and home care while jettisoning lagging food businesses like spreads and pasta sauce. Notable acquisitions include hair and beauty brand Alberto Culver, online razor-delivery startup Dollar Shave Club and Australian tea business T2. Those and a string of other small deals in areas like high-end skin care and upscale condiments have been broadly welcomed by investors, with Unilever's stock has outperforming rivals in recent years.
Mr. Polman, a former P&G and Nestlé executive, also last year fended off a $143 billion takeover approach from Kraft Heinz Co. Since then he has launched share buybacks, raised margin targets and tried to make the company more agile and responsive to local competition.
Write to Saabira Chaudhuri at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 29, 2018 03:14 ET (08:14 GMT)
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