Unilever to further increase brand base in hunt for faster growth

Anglo-Dutch food to detergent group Unilever is planning to further expand the number of brands in its portfolio, new chief executive Alan Jope said in an interview with the Financieele Dagblad.

In order to meet the company’s target of 3% to 5% growth a year, Jope told the paper that the company would ‘look for parts of the market where faster growth is an option’.

‘That is mainly in personal care products, such as skin creams and hair care products,’ he said. ‘This category is a fast grower within Unilever and already accounts for 42% of our turnover.’

Unilever, which for years had reduced its product assortment to concentrate on 400 key brands, has been expanding its product base since 2015 and earlier this year acquired Dutch meat replacement company The Vegetarian Butcher.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Jope described that deal as an ‘experimental foray’.

‘Strategy is about going after what you should go after, not what you could go after,” he told the paper. ‘We’re playing very aggressively on high-quality, fast-growing beauty and personal care assets, and more selectively on food assets, especially when crazy valuations are involved.’


Unilever has spent over €11bn on 32 primarily personal care-related takeovers since 2015 – most recently, American Japanese skin care brand Tatcha.

‘The world is becoming more fragmented,’ Jope told the FD. ‘That goes for consumer groups and sales channels. In addition, there are an increasing number of small brands which we have to compete with.’

Takeovers of at least €1bn are also on the cards but ‘there are not many candidates,’ Jope said.

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