Nippon Lever chief tipped to head detergents

Nippon Lever chairman, Rudy Markham is tipped to take over Niall Fitzgerald’s position as worldwide detergents co-ordinator, say inside sources.

Markham, 49, began his career with in 1968 as a commercial trainee at Wall’s Meat. He has worked in Hamburg and Switzerland and at the head office in Rotterdam as deputy treasurer in 1984.

In November 1986 he replaced Niall Fitzgerald as group treasurer of Unilever. He joined Unilever Australasia as chairman in 1989 and left to join Nippon Lever in 1992.

Unilever confirmed Fitzgerald’s promotion to chairman of Unilever two weeks ago and a review into worldwide Unilever management operations. He takes over in January and will eventually replace Sir Michael Perry who retires in August.

Fitzgerald’s position is being temporarily filled by Iain Anderson, director of Unilever’s worldwide specialty chemicals, until after the review.

Fitzgerald was widely seen as the man ultimately responsible for the Persil Power. The company did not launch Persil Power in the Far East, and Markham had no involvement in the brand. The Far East is perceived to be one of the most important markets for the company. His appointment would be a clear signal of Unilever’s shift in emphasis.

In Europe, Unilever has been disappointing in new product development (MW June 16). It is understood to have stalled all npd in detergents, preferring line extensions such as the new Lux range of liquid soaps.

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