Unilever is to combine the global R&D operations for its food, home and personal care and corporate research divisions.

The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant said the plans would "simplify" and "focus" its R&D functions into one division that will have a number of research sites located in key markets.

The move, part of the company's "One Unilever" reorganisation programme, is designed to improve efficiency in R&D, it said.

"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," Unilever said.

Unilever's chief R&D officer Geneviève Berger will oversee research activities at six strategic sites - Vlaardingen in the Netherlands, Port Sunlight and Colworth in the UK, Trumbull in the US, Bangalore in India and Shanghai, China.

Vindi Banga, president, foods and home & personal care at Unilever, will supervise product design and deployment activities at sites in Englewood Cliffs in the US, Valinhos in Brazil and in Mexico City.

"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," Banga said.