Unilever appoints new head of research and development

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Genevieve Berger has been appointed chief research and development
officer, a newly created position aimed at consolidating the
company's focus on scientific discovery.

Professor Berger will report directly to group chief executive Patrick Cescaus, making her a key player in the company's executive team. The new role will make Professor Berger the functional leader for research and development at the company, which will make her responsible for all the associated resources and laboratories. Consultant to the board​ She will also front the company's Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, as well as acting as an advisor to all members of the executive board about any matters relating to the research and development field and related scientific matters. Professor Berger will step down from her position as a non-executive director on the executive board to take up her new position. She also currently holds the position of professor of medicine at Pierre and Marie Curie University and at La Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in Paris. Starting in July ​ She will leave her position at the Pierre and Marie Curie University, with a view to taking up the new position at Unilever at the beginning of July. "During my time as a non-executive director I have been hugely impressed by Unilever's commitment to science and to R&D in particular, but felt that the contribution that I could make was limited by time,"​ said Professor Berger. Unilever has seen increasingly stiff competition of late, particularly in view of the fact that its biggest rival, Procter & Gamble, has grown so rapidly in the past couple of years thanks to strategic acquisitions such as the Gillette business. Cost cuts did not benefit personal care​ For its most recent quarter, ending in March, the company said that cost cutting measures had helped to boost profits for its food division, but had failed to lift profits for its personal care business. The Anglo-Dutch company, whose brand stable includes Dove, Lux and Ben & Jerry's, said its commodity costs increased €400m in the quarter persuading it to increase its prices 4.8 per cent to sustain profit growth. Sales revenue stood up strongly against the price hikes increasing 0.5 per cent to €9.57bn in an unfavourable foreign exchange rate environment. Overall the strategy positively affected the company's bottom line as net profit rose 34 per cent at current exchange rates to €1.40bn.

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