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Unilever consolidates human resource operations

By Simon Pitman , 12-Jun-2006

As part of moves to cut costs and increase its competitiveness global personal care player Unilever has announced an agreement which will see its human resource operations outsourced.

The company has chosen global management consultants Accenture to provide a range of human resources services - from recruitment to payroll processing and performance management - in 100 countries under a business process outsourcing contract.

Although financial terms for the deal were not revealed, Unilever said that the initial contract will run for seven years.

 

Forming part of the 'One Unilever' restructuring programme, the outsourcing aims to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the company's HR operations.

 

Unilever has been hit by increased competition on the international cosmetics and toiletries market and has made a number of cut backs in recent months in an effort to increase efficiencies across the board.

 

Although the company's personal care operations have buoyed itsotherwise lack luster performance, the company was recently squeezed out of its position as the world's largest consumer goods player by Procter & Gamble after it merged with Gillette at the end of last year.

 

In answer to this Unilever's restructuring programme has concentrated on simplifying and streamlining its structure, which has also led to the sale of its fragrance business last year.

 

The outsourcing move follows a distinct trend in the industry, whereby all core operations, from manufacturing to research and development, are steadily being outsourced to a range of companies.

 

Off the back of this trend, one of the biggest players on the global market for cosmetics and toiletries outsourcing has proved to be UK player Cosi, which is now involved in all areas of production, through to final products and counts Unilever as a key client.

 

Accenture will provide services to nearly 200,000 employees in more than 20 languages from delivery centers in Bangalore, Manila, Dalian, Bucharest, Prague and Curitiba, covering markets in Europe, Americas as well as Asia, Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

 

"This agreement will help support Unilever as it drives to transform its business and achieve increasingly higher levels of performance," said John Zealley, managing partner of Accenture's European Consumer Goods & Services Practice.

 

"Unilever's global cadre of professionals is one of the company's most distinctive assets. An enhanced human resources capability is vital to ensure that these people have the support they need to maximize their efforts and Unilever's future success," he added.

 

Accenture will provide recruitment, payroll administration, reward administration, performance management, workforce reporting, core HR administration and third party provider management services with the use of HR software applications.

 

The company will also provide learning programmes which will have content sourcing and development, programme planning and delivery, learning system hosting, and management and administrative services.

 

Sandy Ogg, Unilever's chief human resources officer, said: "We believe that it is best for our business if we concentrate on our core competencies and transfer what is our back office and make it into someone else's front office."

 

Accenture has been working with Unilever for 10 years now, providing business consultance and IT services, which most recently included a deal to outsource development, implementation and support services in Europe.

 

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