Polman is currently vice president for Nestle’s Amrericas operations and is due to take up the position at the end of the year, when Cescau leaves after notching up 35 years for Unilever
New CEO no surprise
The decision comes as no surprise, as industry insiders had tipped him to take over the position following a dynamic performance that has helped to improve the Swiss food group’s position in the Americas region.
Unilever, which makes leading personal care brands Dove and Sunsilk as well as the Hellmann’s mayonnaise brand, is hoping the appointment will help inject much needed dynamism into the group’s performance, which has been significantly impacted recently by rising costs.
Michael Treschow, Unilever chairman, described Polman as "a great talent with significant international experience and an excellent track record".
Experience with biggest rival
Polman joined Nestle in 2006, but already has a 26-year career at Procter & Gamble behind him, where he had risen to head up the group’s European business. Procter & Gamble is Unilever’s biggest rival in the consumer goods segment.
Unilever’s share price fell significantly in July after the company announced disappointing results for the first six months of the year, after it was impacted heavily by rising costs that had to be passed on to consumers.
The result was disappointing sales growth for the company, which investors did not warm to, leading to a significant drop in the company’s market value.