Global consumer goods company Unilever has today (22 November) announced plans to reorganise its European Foods R&D organisation to foster innovation. The move will halve the number of research and development centres, resulting in the loss of 240 jobs across Europe.

The reorganisation is part of the One Unilever programme, which aims to reduce operational costs, increase leverage of its scale and improve its marketplace competitiveness.

The decision follows a review of the Ango-Dutch consumer goods giant’s Science & Technology operations, led by Vindi Banga, president of Unilever’s Foods Category.

Commenting on the cuts, 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 NPD concentrated in six Centres of Excellence across Europe, while local adaptation will be met by 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 will commence in 2007 and be completed by the end of 2008.