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June 21, 2019

Unilever brands may need “purpose” to stay in portfolio – CEO

Unilever CEO Alan Jope suggests the consumer-goods giant could offload brands that do not stand for something.

By Beth Wright

Unilever CEO Alan Jope suggests the consumer-goods giant could offload brands that do not have what the Magnum and Knorr maker describes as a “purpose”.

Jope, the 30-year Unilever veteran who became chief executive at the turn of the year, said the company already had more than 20 brands with “purpose” and, over the next two years, the group would give the teams behind the rest of the portfolio the opportunity to see what causes they could champion.

“The brands we are enjoying great growth on are brands like Dove, Lifebuoy and Domestos, which are taking action,” Jope said during an interview with Bloomberg TV. “We’ll give all the brands in our portfolio a period of time to figure out how they can make a positive contribution to society. At the end of it, some may have discovered how they can contribute positively and some may not – and the ones that are not able to find a higher-order role they can play may well end up better owned by someone else.”

Unilever has often said the performance of its brands focused on areas like environmental sustainability has been better than other products in its stable. It argues a growing number of consumers are becoming more interesting in buying products and brands with purpose.

“We’ve called out 28 brands in our portfolio, which, across multiple countries, are taking action to address an issue in the society or in the environment and sharing that message with consumers. Those 28 brands are growing much faster than the rest of our portfolio, so. although this is good for the world, it’s also good for our business and they’re now driving about 75% of our total growth, so they’re a very, very important part of Unilever and our portfolio,” he said.

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