With four offers on the table, Ben & Jerry’s had quite the decision to make. When it came down to it, they chose the most attractive offer which turned out to be with Unilever. As time passed, this was shown to ultimately be a very wise choice as the financial results would later show impressive results. These impressive results could be seen by looking at how the operating margins tripled and were able to maintain a 700M operating profit in succeeding years after the merger (starting in 2002), operations expanded into 13 new countries, and that their sales reached a notable $417.9 million. Put this together with the fact that Unilever let Ben & Jerry’s continue to operate as an independent subsidiary and continue a majority of their social agenda, this was a successful merger for Ben & Jerry’s. From a Unilever’s perspective, it proved to be just as lucrative. Investors in Unilever has grown uneasy for some time with Unilever and had been pressuring them to grow.
This was partly solved when Unilever finally acquired Ben & Jerry’s (And around 20 other companies at that time) and was able to grow Ben & Jerry’s internationally and increase its company’s value to its investors. All said and done, this was a very successful merger for both parties despite a few integration problems that will be discussed in the following analysis. First off it should be mentioned that Ben & Jerry was able to continue their social contributions. They were able to stay in Vermont, continue to buy non-BGH diary goods from Vermont supplies, and continue to have their free cones day. Unilever even helped start a Ben & Jerry’s foundation that would help fund businesses in low-income communities. All this was in the result of Ben & Jerry’s company culture and the employee’s attitudes.
One impact from this was that the employees were quite “playful.” This led to the first integration problem when Unilever implanted its own executive, Yves Couette, as CEO of Ben & Jerry’s. He had the task of being able to switch from the more strict corporate culture at Unilever to Ben & Jerry’s more laid back culture This led to him hiring a consultant who would teach financial issues to the employees at Ben & Jerry’s in a playful matter. Another integration problem was that there were a couple duplicate processes that Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever both had. These processes produced inefficiencies that took place in the production and distribution of Ben & Jerry’s. Because of this, two Ben & Jerry’s plants were closed which resulted in 69 Ben & Jerry employees being let go. Even though employees were let go, this was still the best route to go as a company wants to be as lean as possible.
There was also a couple integration problems when it came down to corporate policy. Unilever had a policy which disallowed any partisan political actions. Ben & Jerry’s didn’t formally have this in their policy. The problem occurred when some of Ben & Jerry employees wanted to go to an antiwar demonstration in Washington, D.C. on a bus emblazoned with the Ben & Jerry’s name. Because it was against Unilever’s corporate policy, they were unable to go to the antiwar demonstration.
When looking at the profit for Ben & Jerry’s in the early 2000s, the merger has been quite successful. The impressive results can be seen from the operating margin and profit. The merger seemed to have come at a perfect time for Unilever, as their investors were looking to gain from expansion. A few integration problems arose from the merger. Inefficiencies were eliminated, which in turn caused the company to downsize. Unilever’s non-partisan policy conflicted with Ben & Jerry’s socially aware company theme. Even though these problems arose, the merger between the two companies was successful.