Unilever is combining its home and personal care and foods business units into a single category structure. To reflect the company’s strategic focus on growth in developing markets, Central and Eastern Europe will in be managed within an enlarged region comprising Asia, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. Western Europe will become a standalone region. Simultaneously, a number of Unilever board and senior executive changes are also being announced.
Ralph Kugler, president of home and personal care, will step down at the company's annual general meetings on May 14-15, 2008, after 29 years of service. Harish Manwani, currently president Asia Africa, will lead the new expanded region. Doug Baillie will join the Unilever executive team as president of Western Europe, having previously been chief executive officer of Hindustan Unilever.
Kees van der Graaf will retire from the Unilever board and from his role as president Europe at the annual general meetings after nearly 32 years with Unilever.
Michael Treschow, Chairman of Unilever, said: “We thank Kees and Ralph for all they have done for us both as executives and as members of the Unilever Board and we wish them well.”
At the annual meetings James A Lawrence, currently chief financial officer, will be proposed for election as an executive director of Unilever. This change will mean that the Unilever Board will be composed of two executive directors and 11 non-executives. Jim joined Unilever as CFO in September 2007. He is currently a non-executive director of British Airways PLC and Avnet Inc. Unilever requires all directors to offer themselves for re-election at the annual meetings each year. Accordingly, in addition to James Lawrence, the following directors will be offering themselves for re-election: Patrick Cescau, Genevieve Berger, Leon Brittan, Wim Dik, Charles Golden, Byron Grote, Narayana Murthy, Hixonia Nyasulu, David Simon, Kees Storm, Michael Treschow, Jeroen van der Veer.