Unilever starts major jobs cull at Bestfoods

Unilever has unveiled the first wave of marketing redundancies under its “One Unilever” integration strategy just days after announcing that it would ramp up marketing spend following another profit warning.

The company is to make about ten per cent of the marketing and sales staff redundant at its Unilever Bestfoods business, which makes foods for the struggling Slim-Fast range, as well as accounting for a host of famous brands such as Bertolli, Colmans, Hellmann’s and Knorr. A Unilever spokesman says the company will make similar cuts at other divisions, although no decision has been made about the scale of redundancies. Industry sources say the job losses will be the first of several job cuts under the “One Unilever” plan, which will merge the Lever Fabergé, Bestfoods and Unilever Ice Cream & Frozen Food divisions into a single Unilever UK business. One source claims marketers at category director level and above have been warned of job cuts across Europe.

The spokesman says the company hopes the majority of job losses will be achieved through voluntary redundancy and early retirement. He refuses to confirm which positions will be affected. Steering committees have been created to oversee the process and consultation has begun to assess numbers affected.

The spokesman says: “The company is to become One Unilever and the integration will apply to teams at various levels. We recognise the need to be leaner.”

The cuts come at a time when Unilever has pledged to increase its marketing spend to reverse the business’s fortunes. This week, the company slashed its underlying earnings per share from the promised double-digit growth to low single-digit growth.

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