Sep 26, 2022
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Unilever CEO to quit next year, successor search starts

Sep 26, 2022

There was big news from Unilever on Monday as its CEO Alan Jope announced that he’s quitting at the end of next year after five years at the helm.


The giant fast-moving consumer goods group is now kicking off a formal search for a successor and will look at both internal and external candidates.

Chairman Nils Andersen said: “Unilever has seen improved performance, enabled by its clear strategic choices and a significant company transformation. The board will now conduct an orderly succession process and support Alan and the management team in further driving the performance of Unilever.

“Alan's retirement next year will mark the end of a remarkable career with Unilever. Under his leadership, [it] has made critical changes to its strategy, structure and organisation that position it strongly for success. This work continues, and we will thank Alan wholeheartedly for his leadership and contribution to our business when he leaves next year.”

Having said all that, Jope’s time as CEO hasn’t always gone down well with analysts and institutional investors, some of whom have criticised decisions he’s made amid a lack of spectacular growth.

His attempt earlier this year — later abandoned — to buy GSK’s consumer health arm wasn’t popular with them. And Unilever’s focus on eco and social concerns has also been criticised. Notable critics included star investor Terry Smith and activist investor Nelson Peltz. That latter (who’s also Brooklyn Beckham’s father-in-law) later joined the board.

But while investors may be focused solely on the share price and dividends, it’s undeniable that companies acting with social concerns and the environment in mind are increasingly popular with consumers, many of them having the same concerns and possibly unhappy if a new CEO changes the stance.

Jope himself said: “As I approach my fifth year as CEO, and after more than 35 years in Unilever, I believe now is the right time for the board to begin the formal search for my successor. Growth remains our top priority, and in the quarters ahead I will remain fully focused on disciplined execution of our strategy, and leveraging the full benefits of our new organisation.”

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