Andrew Seth, managing director of embattled soap giant Lever Brothers UK, will take early retirement at the end of next month. His post will be filled by an unknown Dutch marketing chief from Lever Hamburg, Germany.
Seth’s replacement, Aart Weijburg, managing director of Lever’s German operation. Weijburg, who is in charge of equivalent soap brands such as Omo in Germany, joins on April 1.
Seth became managing director in 1992, joining from Lever Europe, Brussels, where he was a general manager. He told Marketing Week that he had intended to retire early when he took the role. “When I returned to Lever it was the job I really wanted to do in the company,” says Seth. “I decided to give myself three years to do what I felt needed to be done here.”
As managing director, Seth oversaw the launch of Persil Power last year. This week Lever Brothers’ replacement for Persil Power, New Generation Persil, is going on sale promotion of the new brand will not start until next week. The company is committing a £19m advertising spend to the launch of the new accelerator-free brand.
Seth joined Unilever in 1961 and became a marketing trainee with Lever Brothers and Associates in 1962. He was appointed marketing manager in 1967 and company operations manager two years later. In 1970 he moved to Lever de Mexico as marketing director and then to Sunlight AG Switzerland. He headed a new centralised brand control department in Brussels in December 1989.
One analyst says that it is not unusual for Unilever to move senior management across different markets, “The only major difference that Weijburg will experience is that in the UK there is only one major competitor, Procter & Gamble, and in Germany there are three,” he says.