Unilever reshapes its global research & development

Unilever today announced the intention to consolidate its R&D activities into a number of larger sites located in its key markets.

Today's announcement is part of the company's 'One Unilever' programme, builds on a review in 2006 into Unilever's science and technology capabilities led by Vindi Banga, President, Foods & Refreshment, Home and Beauty & Personal Care and a review started earlier this year, following the creation of the single category function and the appointment of Geneviève Berger as Unilever's Chief R&D Officer.

The intention is to combine the three global R&D operations (Foods R&D, HPC R&D and Corporate Research) into one Unilever R&D organisation and marks a significant step forward in increasing its efficiency, simplicity and focus in R&D. Through the intended changes, Unilever will be able to deliver an integrated R&D programme, reduce overlap in activities between sites and increase the speed and impact of innovations.

For research, led by Chief R&D Officer, Geneviève Berger, Unilever has chosen six strategic sites - Vlaardingen (NL), Port Sunlight & Colworth (UK), Trumbull, (USA) Bangalore (India) and Shanghai (China) – as the global expertise base from which it will deliver an integrated research programme, together with external collaborators in a strong open Innovation programme.

For product design and deployment, which is part of the category organisation led by Vindi, Unilever has decided to consolidate Food activities in the Americas to Englewood Cliffs (USA), Valinhos (Brasil) and Mexico City (Mexico). Global Laundry R&D is consolidated in Vlaardingen (NL), Port Sunlight (UK) and Mumbai (India).

Geneviève said: "The steps we have announced today will enable us to go further in focussing our resources on creating fewer, bigger innovations, and deploying them at scale in areas where we want to win. These changes to our organisational structure, together with an increased focus on our open innovation collaborations, will enable us to more efficiently deliver improved product performance to our consumers."

Vindi said: "Today's announcement marks the next step in the creation of a more impactful R&D function at Unilever. Although we already have a strong innovation pipeline, these changes will enable us to drive harder than ever to increase our competitiveness in the market place."

As a result of the intended changes, Unilever expects that approximately 390 full time positions will be impacted resulting in a net reduction of 250 full time positions. Unilever has a strong track record in managing complex change programmes and it will do its utmost to minimise the need for compulsory redundancies.

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