Unilever buys up Sara Lee cosmetics division

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sara lee, Brand management, Procter & gamble

Unilever has paid €1.275bn for the global body care division of US-based consumer goods player Sara Lee.

The unit holds a number of leading body care brands, including Sanex, Radox and Duschadas, which are predicted to contribute to combined global sales of approximately €750m in 2009.

The business also includes a European detergents operation, which will fit in with Unilever’s extensive business operations in this category.

Regulatory and work council approval

Although the deal has been agreed by the two companies, it still has to undergo approval from various regulatory authorities worldwide, as well as European works councils.

Unilever said in a statement that it expects the deal to be closed during 2010, with the precise date likely to be determined by the regulatory approval.

Unilever has weathered the current economic downturn by concentrating on discounting its brands, particularly within its personal care division, where the business has remained strong.

Personal care key to growth for Unilever

The addition of the Sara Lee body care brands is expected to build on this position, as well as being a good fit with its existing brand portfolio.

"Personal care is a strategic category and a key growth driver for Unilever. The Sara Lee brands enjoy strong consumer recognition, offer significant growth potential and are an excellent fit with Unilever's existing business,"​ said Unilever CEO, Paul Polman.

Polman took over as CEO of Unilever back in January of this year, when he pledged that he would return the company back to growth.

Sare Lee exits personal care

Sara Lee has been aiming to exit the personal care field for some time and confirmed it wanted to sell the division back in March of this year.

However, it has been holding out for the right offer, and said it received ‘significant interest’ from other players during the latest round of bidding.

“The divestiture of body care and European detergents would advance our strategy to concentrate on our core food and beverage businesses where we enjoy a strong competitive position and where we can generate shareholder returns,”​ said Brenda Barnes, Sara Lee CEO.

Barnes has indicated that the company intends to pursue further divestiture options, which will concentrate on its air care, shoe care, insecticides and non-European detergent brands.

Related topics: Business & Financial

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