Unilever reshapes its European foods research & development - Organising for the future

Unilever today announced plans to reshape its Foods R&D organisation in Europe in order to further enable differentiated innovation. Foods R&D Europe will be restructured to provide the focus and critical mass that can deliver innovations for both the European and global market.

Organising for the future

The reorganisation is part of the One Unilever programme to increase leverage of its scale, improve its marketplace competitiveness, deliver functional excellence, and create a more competitive cost-structure allowing it to strengthen its focus on its consumers and customers.

Today's announcement follows an extensive Science & Technology Review led by Vindi Banga, President of Unilever's Foods & Refreshment Division. Vindi Banga said: "The review showed that we have great people and strong capabilities. However, it also showed that by organising ourselves so that we could leverage our scale and play to our strengths we could improve our market competitiveness. By getting the benefits of focus and synergies I am convinced that today's announcement will make a significant difference to our innovation delivery."

The new structure will see new product development concentrated in six Centres of Excellence across Europe. Each of these Centres of Excellence will establish a world-class technical capability that can be applied across the divisions, for global, regional and local innovations. In addition, local adaptation and implementation of Foods innovations will be ensured through consolidated country and factory teams.

Vindi Banga said: "Unilever will implement these changes sensitively and professionally, with attention to all affected people. Unilever is committed to working closely with works councils and employees to minimise redundancies and to provide redundancy packages where needed, in line with local legislation and circumstances."

Implementation of the changes in Unilever's European Foods R&D organisation will commence in 2007 and be completed by the end of 2008.

Notes to Editors:

The current European Foods R&D organisation employs 1,160 people in over 60 locations across Europe. As result of this reorganisation, Unilever will move to 29 Foods R&D locations in Europe. Unilever estimates that the reorganisation of Foods R&D Europe will result in a loss of approximately 240 jobs due to the change to a simpler, more focussed organisation. Unilever expects to relocate an additional 260 jobs to the consolidated Foods R&D centres across Europe.

Unilever has informed its employees and European works council about these plans. The affected employees are being contacted to discuss personal impact and next steps.

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