Unilever to spin off ice cream business, eliminate 7,500 jobs

The board is determined to transform Unilever into a higher-growth, higher-margin business, says Ian Meakins

Representative image of Unilever logo (photo: IANS)
Representative image of Unilever logo (photo: IANS)


Unilever, the parent company of Hindustan Unilever, on Tuesday, 19 March, announced to separate its ice cream unit into a standalone business, in a restructuring exercise that will result in nearly 7,500 job losses at the company.

The company said in a statement that the expected changes, to be completed by the end of next year, are expected to impact around 7,500 predominantly office-based roles globally, with total restructuring costs now anticipated to be around 1.2 per cent of group turnover for the next three years.

“The board is determined to transform Unilever into a higher-growth, higher-margin business that will deliver consistently for all stakeholders. Improving our performance and sharpening our portfolio are key to delivering the improved results we believe Unilever can achieve,” said Ian Meakins, chair of Unilever.

The separation of ice cream will create a world-leading business, operating in a highly attractive category, with brands that together delivered a turnover of 7.9 billion euros in 2023, said the company.

The business has five of the top 10 selling global ice cream brands including Wall’s, Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s, with exposure in both the in-home and out-of-home segments across a global footprint.

“The board believes that Unilever should be increasingly focused on a portfolio of unmissably superior brands with strong positions in highly attractive categories that have complementary operating models,” the company noted.

A demerger of ice cream is the most likely separation route, and in that case “we expect the company to operate with a capital structure in line with comparable listed companies”.

“The changes we are announcing will help us accelerate that plan, focusing our business and our resources on global or scalable brands where we can apply our leading innovation, technology and go-to-market capabilities across complementary operating models,” said Hein Schumacher, CEO of Unilever.

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