Unilever boss Paul Polman in management reshuffle

Unilever boss Paul Polman in management reshuffle

Unilever boss Paul Polman in management reshuffle

Paul Polman, the new boss of consumer goods giant Unilever, has moved to stamp his authority on the company by unveiling a management reshuffle.

Mr Polman told employees he wants Unilever's major divisions and locations to benefit from leaders who "deeply understand the power of bringing innovation to the market place".

Mr Polman took up his role as chief executive of Unilever, whose products include Pot Noodles, Persil washing powder and Vaseline, at the beginning of this year and has already made significant changes.

Earlier this month, as Unilever posted annual results, he refused to set out guidance for the company's prospects in 2009. He said forecasts would be "inappropriate" given the "exceptional times we live in", but investors reacted coolly to the decision and the shares have fallen almost 10pc since.

As part of the restructuring of the company's management, Mr Polman has moved to bolster the finance team by appointing Henning Rehder, currently chairman of Unilever in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, to senior vice-president finance for categories and research & development, and Robert Etman to senior vice-president finance global supply chain.

"It is absolutely crucial that we strengthen our supply chain capabilities to win in market," wrote Mr Polman. "We are currently not at par with competition."

Other changes include Kevin Havelock moving from president Unilever North America to executive vice-president global ice cream, and Arun Adhikari, group vice-president for North East Asia, becoming senior-vice president laundry Asia AMET (Africa, Middle East and Turkey).

John LeBoutillier, the general manager of ice cream US, will take up Mr Havelock's former role, while Alan Jope, at present the general vice-president SCC (spreads and cooking category), becomes executive vice-president greater China.

"Increasingly a strong CD [customer development] and/or marketing background will be required from our cluster leaders to ensure that brand and category positions are built again and we consistently grow share," Mr Polman told staff. "Our appointments reflect this."

The reshuffle, to be implemented in April, follows a focus on cutting costs since Mr Polman's arrival.

The company which owns 13 brands that generate more than 1bn (896m) in annual sales has frozen salaries across the group, plans to reduce business travel by 30pc this year, and will align bonuses more closely with performance.

"With most but not all of the restructuring efforts behind us, we now need to firmly focus on the growth agenda for the organisation," Mr Polman added. "A key part of this will be driven by the strength of our innovations which have to become bigger, bolder and better; but also by our ability to translate these into in-market success."

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