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Type Public (Euronext: UNA, Template:Lse, Template:Nyse)
Founded Merger of Lever Brothers and Margarine Unie in 1930
Headquarters London and Rotterdam
Key people
Antony Burgmans, Patrick Cescau
Manufacturing (foods, home and personal care)
See brands listing
€39.642 billion (2006)
€5.408 billion (2006)
€5.015 billion (2006)
206 000

Unilever (Euronext: UNA, Template:Lse, Template:Nyse) is an Anglo-Dutch company that owns many of the world's consumer product brands in foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. Unilever employs more than 206,000 people and had a worldwide revenue of 39,67 billion (just over US$50 billion) in 2005.

Unilever has two parent companies: Unilever NV in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and Unilever PLC in London, United Kingdom. This arrangement is similar to that of Reed Elsevier, and that of Royal Dutch Shell prior to their unified structure. Both Unilever companies have the same directors and effectively operate as a single business. The current non-executive Chairman of Unilever N.V. and PLC is Antony Burgmans while Patrick Cescau is Group Chief Executive. Unilever's major competitors include Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Mars Incorporated, and Reckitt Benckiser.



Unilever was created in 1930 by the merger of British soapmaker Lever Brothers and Dutch margarine producer Margarine Unie, a logical merger as palm oil was a major raw material for both margarines and soaps and could be imported more efficiently in larger quantities.

In the 1930s, the business of Unilever grew and new ventures were launched in Latin America. By 1980, soap and edible fats contributed just 40% of profits, compared with an original 90%. In 1984 the company bought the brands Brooke Bond (maker of PG Tips tea), Fabergé and Elizabeth Arden, but the latter was later sold (in 2000) to FFI Fragrances. Unilever acquired Chesebrough-Ponds, the maker of Ragu, Ponds and Vaseline, in 1987, which strengthened its position in the world skin care market. The company later absorbed the American business Best Foods, strengthening its presence in North America and extending its portfolio of foods brands.

Today the company is fully multinational with operating companies and factories on every continent and research laboratories at Colworth and Port Sunlight in the United Kingdom; Vlaardingen in the Netherlands; Trumbull, Connecticut, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey in the United States; Bangalore in India (see also Hindustan Unilever Limited); and Shanghai in China. Its European IT infrastructure headquarters is based in Unity House, Ewloe in Flintshire, Wales.

The US division continued to carry the Lever Brothers name until the 1990s, when it adopted the parent company's moniker. The American unit is now headquartered in New Jersey, and no longer maintains a presence at Lever House, the iconic skyscraper on Park Avenue in New York City.

Unilever has recently completed a five year vitality company initiative in which it began to converge the marketing of disparate arms of their business, including personal care, dieting, and consumables into an umbrella function displaying the breadth of their contributions to personal vitality. This plan has been implemented because of the lack of brand recognition that Unilever wields, even despite its ubiquitous presence. In 2006, it concluded with the sell off of the global frozen foods division; excluding the ICF ice cream business, and the Italian frozen vegetables businesses.

Corporate governance

Unilever's highest executive body is called the Unilever Executive. It is led by the Group Chief Executive (Patrick Cescau), and is responsible for managing profit, loss and growth delivery across the company.

Members of the Unilever Executive include: Executive and non-executive directors & financial advisors at Unilever are:

Currently Unilever has chosen to focus on 400 brands out of its 1600 in a bid to increase its profits by reducing the variety of advertising and packaging.

Unilever employees have called for Unilever to stop dealing with the notorious PT Musim Mas, an Indonesian palm oil producer, known for their anti-union, anti-workers' rights mode of operation. [1] There has never been a high-profile human rights case involving Unilever.


After some recent purges, Unilever now owns about 400 brands, many of them local that can only be found in certain countries. The brands fall almost entirely into two categories: Food and Beverages, and Home and Personal Care.

Food and beverages

  • Ades or Adez - soya-based drinks
  • Alsa - desserts and syrups
  • Amora - French mayonnaise and dressings
  • Annapurna - salt and wheat flour (India)
  • Becel - also known as Flora/Promise; health-aware: margarine, spreads, cooking oil, milk, fermented milk
  • Ben and Jerry's - ice cream
  • Best Foods - mayonnaise
  • Bertolli - pasta sauces and olive oil (ambient/chilled & frozen)
  • Bifi - a mini salami
  • Blue Band - Family-aware: margarine, bread, cream alternatives
  • Boursin - cheese
  • Bovril - beef extract
  • Breyers - ice cream
  • Brooke Bond - tea
  • Bru - instant coffee (India)
  • Calvé - sauces, ketchup, mustard, mayonaise, peanut butter
  • Capitan Findus - children's frozen food

A menu from Unilever's Italian subsidiary Algida.
Algida's old logo

Unilever is the world's biggest ice cream manufacturer, with an annual turnover of €5 billion[1]. Except for Breyers and Ben & Jerry's, all its ice cream business is done under the "Heartbrand" brand umbrella, so called because of its heart-shaped logo. Unilever currently operates eleven ice cream factories in Europe; the biggest include factories at Heppenheim in Germany, Caivano in Italy, St. Dizier in France and Gloucester in the United Kingdom.

The Heartbrand was launched in 1999 (and slightly modified in 2002) as an effort to increase international brand awareness and promote cross-border synergies in manufacturing and marketing ("centralisation"). It is present in more than 40 countries[1]. Although the logo is common worldwide, each country retained the local brand so as to keep the notoriety built across the years.

A freezer in Queens, NY filled with Strauss ice cream from Israel with the Heartbrand

In 2005, Glidat Strauss received special permission from Unilever to export their brand of ice cream to the United States because of the strict kosher certification the products in Israel have. Under terms of the agreement, Strauss ice cream and krembo may be sold only in kosher supermarkets and import shops. It is distributed in North America by Dairy Delight, a subsidiary of Norman's Dairy.

Partial list of national brands:

Prior to the heart logo, each country could choose its own logo, although the most common one consisted of a blue circle with the local brand's name over a background of red stripes; second most common old logo, used by Wall's in the UK and other countries, was a yellow logo with Wall's in blue text.

Unilever generally manufactures the same ice-cream with the same names, with rare occasions of regional availability, under different brands. Some of these ice-creams include Carte D'Or, Cornetto, Magnum, Solero and Viennetta.

Home and personal care brands

  • Ala - laundry detergent (Brazil)
  • All - laundry detergent
  • Andrelon
  • Aviance
  • Axe - deodorant
  • Ayush (India)
  • Brut
  • Caress
  • Cif - cleaning
  • Clear - shampoo (Vietnam, Indonesia)
  • Close-Up - Tooth Paste
  • Comfort - softener
  • Degree
  • Domestos

  • Dove - skin and hair
  • Gessy (Brazil)
  • Glorix
  • Impulse
  • Lever 2000
  • Lifebuoy (Bangladesh,India,Pakistan,Indonesia)
  • Linic - dandruff shampoo
  • Lux - women's soap, shower gel and lotions
  • Lynx

  • Pond's
  • Q-Tips
  • Rexona deodorant
  • Rinso
  • Robijn softener
  • Sedal (known in Brazil as Seda) shampoo and conditioner
  • Signal
  • SR -Dental
  • Skip - laundry detergent
  • Suave
  • Sun - dishwasher
  • Sunil
  • Sunlight
  • Sunsilk
  • Sure (brand)

  • Omo - laundry detergent
  • Surf - laundry detergent
  • Swan (defunct)
  • Thermasilk
  • Timotei
  • Valentino perfumes
  • Vaseline
  • Vasenol - shower gel, deodorant, body lotion
  • Vim (Bangladesh,India,Pakistan)
  • Wisk
  • Xedex
  • Zhonghua Toothpaste

New innovation

  • AdeZ- Soya drinks
  • Persil / Omo -Liquid GEL Tablets
  • Flora Omega 3 (UK)
  • Dove Body Care
  • Bousin Cubes
  • Carte D'Or Greek Style Yoghurt
  • Comfort Pearls
  • Wall's Frusi
  • Dove Pro Age
  • Persil & Surf Small & Mighty
  • Ben & Jerry's Fair trade ice cream
  • Marmite Guinness (limited edition)


Unilever is well known for great advertising around the globe like;

  • Lynx/Ace click advert with Ben Afleck
  • PG Tips Monkey and Al
  • Knorr Chicken Tonight, ' I feel like chicken tonight'
  • Flora London Marathon
  • Knorr global brand
  • Dove 'Real beauty'
  • Calve Pindakaas (peanut butter) in Holland
  • Comfort Pure recommended by mothercare

See also


Unilever's status as a large multinational has attracted a variety of criticisms from political activists [2]. For example, it has been criticised for causing environmental pollution by Greenpeace[3], for testing products on animals by PETA, for making use of child labour [4], among others.


  1. ^ a b c [European Unilever Workers Call for Company to Take Action on Musim Mas Palm Oil]. IUF. Retrieved on 2006-21-04.
  2. ^ Unilever Corporate Crimes. Corporate Watch. Retrieved on 2007-08-02.
  3. ^ Unilever admits toxic dumping: will clean up but not come clean. Greenpeace. Retrieved on 2007-08-02.
  4. ^ Montsanto, Unilever use Child Labour in India. India Committee of the Netherlands. Retrieved on 2007-08-02.

External links

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