The reorganization of the Anglo-Dutch business means that the beauty & personal care and home care divisions will both remain headquartered in London, while the food & refreshment business will be headquartered in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
But perhaps the biggest decision is the announcement that the company will now no longer be listed as a Dutch N.V. and a British PLC, with a move to make one single legal entity incorporated in the Netherlands.
Unilever CEO insists move is not linked to Brexit
Although executives have been keen to stress that shifting the food & refreshment division to Rotterdam has nothing to do with the U.K.’s planned departure from EU membership in March next year, a number of political commentators have expressed the opposite.
Speaking at an event to announce the restructuring, CEO Paul Polman said that the decision to make the move was taken after a year-long review, and “has nothing to do with Brexit”.
However, Rajesh Agrawal, the London deputy mayor for business, said that the move was “disappointing for London”, further stressing his belief that Unilever’s decision emphasized the need for the British government to come to a swift and decisive plan of action to secure a Brexit deal.
Connected 4 Growth programme
The move is part of the company’s Connected 4 Growth programme, which aims to drive further growth and expansion in the longer-term, while also serving to increase shareholder value.
Unilever do appear to have played down there decision to shift the business headquarters to the Netherlands, with the official press communication stressing the fact that maintaining its business operations in London secured a continued annual company spend of $1 billion in the UK.
The same communication also devoted one short line to the decision to relocate the headquarters, left near the bottom of a list of points outlining the restructuring.
The company did also state that it would continue to be listed in London, Amsterdam and New York, while it’s 7,300 staff in the UK and 3,100 staff in the Netherlands would be unaffected by the announcement.
“The Board believes the move to three Divisions and the simplification of our corporate structure will create a simpler, more agile and more focused company with increased strategic flexibility for value-creating portfolio change,” said Marijin Dekkers, chairman of Unilever.
“Our decision to headquarter the Divisions in the UK and the Netherlands underscores our long-term commitment to both countries.”