Unilever kicks off strategic review of personal-care brands

Simple: among Unilever brands reportedly under review
Simple: among Unilever brands reportedly under review

Process takes place as Unilever considers selling off tea business.

Unilever has started a review of its health and beauty brands, according to The Sunday Times, with the FMCG giant considering offloading underperforming products.

The article claimed that chief executive Alan Jope is looking to counter slowing growth with a review of its health and beauty brands – a process that the report said will take between nine months to a year. The review is expected to impact small-name brands, such as skincare brand Simple and US haircare label Suave, as opposed to more high-selling products.

Jope and chief financial officer Graeme Pitkethly spoke during a recent analysts call in which they said Unilever's tea division, which houses brands including PG Tips and Lipton, had dragged down group-wide sales.This latest move appears to be an extension of that process across other areas of the business.

Unilever’s beauty and personal care brands also include Dove, Sure, Alberto Balsam, Pond's, Radox, Vaseline and VO5. The division generated sales of £18.2bn last year, accounting for more than 40% of its group turnover.

When discussing its review of the tea unit, Jope drew a parallel with Unilever’s spreads business, which it sold to Upfield in 2018. He said the sale had been vindicated: while Upfield had improved the performance of the brands, they would "still be massively dilutive [to growth] for Unilever" should the company have kept hold of them.

In January, Jope said that it expected underlying sales growth for 2019 to be slightly below its previous guidance, due to challenges in markets including south-west Africa, while adding that there were signs of improvement in North America.

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