Unilever streamlines products, cuts jobs to confront world slowdown

Thu Dec 5, 2013 3:18pm EST
 
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By Martinne Geller

LONDON (Reuters) - Consumer products giant Unilever Plc (ULVR.L: Quote) (UNc.AS: Quote) aims to cut the number of individual products it sells by 30 percent by the end of 2014 to become more efficient and navigate a global economic slowdown it admits it was slow to confront.

The Anglo-Dutch maker of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Lipton tea and Dove soap also said on Thursday it is cutting about 2,000 jobs and will continue to adjust its portfolio.

"The global economy has calibrated down about 1-1.5 percent and we probably should've done a better job seeing it coming," said Unilever Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman in a presentation in London that was broadcast over the internet.

"We're using that opportunity to step up the performance and drive new energy into the organization."

In October, Unilever posted slower sales growth for the third quarter after demand was hurt by the devaluation of some emerging market currencies and aggressive promotions in the United States by rival Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N: Quote).

"We lost our competitiveness," Polman said.

Unilever intends to save 500 million euros ($683 million) next year, after cutting about 2,000 jobs this year, improving its supply chain and making various processes more efficient.

DEALING WITH YOUR OWN DECK   Continued...

 
As iconic 1960's activist Wavy Gravy (L) looks on, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream co-founders Ben Cohen (C) and Jerry Greenfield serve the first scoop of the resurrected Ben & Jerry's flavor "Wavy Gravy" at an event in downtown San Francisco August 24, 2005. REUTERS/Lou Dematteis