Unilever is a British–Dutch multinational consumer goods company. Its products include foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. It is the world’s third-largest consumer goods company measured by 2011 revenues (after Procter & Gamble and Nestle) and the world’s largest maker of ice cream. Unilever is a dual-listed company consisting of Unilever N. V. in Rotterdam, Netherlands and Unilever PLC in London, United Kingdom. Both Unilever companies have the same directors and they operate as a single business.
The current non-executive Chairman of Unilever N. V. and PLC is Michael Treschow while Paul Polman is Group Chief Executive. Unilever owns over 400 brands, amongst the largest selling of which are Aviance, Axe/Lynx, Ben & Jerry’s, Dove, Flora/Becel, Heartbrand, Hellmann’s, Knorr, Lipton, Lux/Radox, Omo/Surf, Rexona/Sure, Sunsilk, Toni & Guy, TRESemme, VO5 and Wish-Bone. Unilever PLC had a market capitalisation of ? 27. 3 billion as of 23 December 2011, the 18th-largest of any company with a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange. 1930 to 2001
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Lever House in New York City, which was the United States headquarters of Unilever from 1952 to 1997 Unilever was founded on 1 January 1930 by Antonius Johannes Jurgens, Samuel van den Bergh and William Hulme Lever, 2nd Viscount Leverhulme. The amalgamation of the operations of British soapmaker Lever Brothers and Dutch margarine producer Margarine Unie (a 1927 amalgamation of Anton Jurgens Margarinefabrieken N. V. and Samuel van den Bergh) made sound commercial sense, as palm oil was a major raw material for both margarines, and soaps, and could be imported more efficiently in larger quantities.
The initial harvesting of palm oil was from British West Africa, from where news reports seen back in England showed the workers abroad in favourable conditions. In 1911 the company received a concession for 750,000 hectares of forest in Belgian Congo, mostly south of Bandundu, where a system of forced labour operated. The subsidiary of Lever Brothers was named “Huileries du Congo Belge”. During the great depression in the thirties, the Huileries sharply decreased the fee for gathered oil nuts, while the government of Belgian Congo strongly increased taxation.
This resulted in social unrest in 1931, which is known as the Revolution of the Pende, in which eventually more than 400 members of the Pende tribe were killed. In the 1930s the Unilever business grew and new ventures were launched in Africa and Latin America. In 1972 Unilever purchased A&W Restaurants’ Canadian division but sold its shares through a management buyout to former A&W Food Services of Canada CEO Jefferson J. Mooney in July 1996. By 1980 soap and edible fats contributed just 40% of profits, compared with an original 90%.
In 1984 the company bought the brand Brooke Bond (maker of PG Tips tea). In 1987 Unilever strengthened its position in the world skin care market by acquiring Chesebrough-Ponds (merged from Chesebrough Manufacturing and Pond’s Creams), the maker of Ragu, Pond’s, Aqua-Net, Cutex Nail Polish, and Vaseline. In 1989 Unilever bought Calvin Klein Cosmetics, Faberge, and Elizabeth Arden, but the latter was later sold (in 2000) to FFI Fragrances. In 1996 Unilever purchased Helene Curtis Industries, giving the company “a powerful new presence in the United States shampoo and deodorant market”.
The purchase brought Unilever the Suave and Finesse hair-care product brands and Degree deodorant brand. In 1997 Unilever sold the speciality chemicals businesses National Starch & Chemical, Quest, Unichema and Crosfield to ICI for US$8 billion.. The US division carried the Lever Brothers name until the 1990s, when it adopted that of the parent company. The American unit has headquarters in New Jersey, and no longer maintains a presence at Lever House, the iconic skyscraper on Park Avenue in New York City.
Unilever established a sustainable agriculture programme in 1998. 2001 to 2011 Global employment at Unilever 2000–2008 Black represents employment numbers in Europe, light grey represents the Americas and dark grey represents Asia, Africa, and Middle East. Between 2000 and 2008 Unilever reduced global workforce numbers by 41%, from 295,000 to 174,000. Notes: Europe figures for 2000–2003 are all Europe; from 2004 figures in black are Western Europe. For 2004–2008 figures for Asia, Africa and Middle East include Eastern and Central Europe.
Source: Unilever Annual Reports 2004, 2008 In 2000 the company absorbed the American business Best Foods, strengthening its presence in North America and extending its portfolio of foods brands. In April 2000 it bought both Ben & Jerry’s and Slim Fast. In May 2007 Unilever became the first large-scale company to commit to sourcing all its tea in a sustainable manner, employing the Rainforest Alliance, an international environmental NGO, to certify its tea estates in East Africa, as well as third-party suppliers in Africa and other parts of the world.
It declared its aim to have all Lipton Yellow Label and PG Tips tea bags sold in Western Europe certified by 2010, followed by all Lipton tea bags globally by 2015. Covalence, an ethical reputation ranking agency, placed Unilever at the top of its ranking based on positive versus negative news coverage for 2007. In 2007, Unilever’s Dove “Evolution” video that ran only online, was named the first ever non-TV spot to win the Grand Lion at the Cannes Advertising Festival. And in March, 2008, Unilever was named “Digital Marketer of the Year” by Advertising Age.
In 2008 Unilever was honoured at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for Creation and Distribution of Interactive Commercial Advertising Delivered Through Digital Set Top Boxes” for its program Axe: Boost Your ESP. On 25 September 2009, Unilever agreed to acquire the personal care business of Sara Lee Corporation, including brands such as Radox, Badedas and Duschdas, strengthening its category leadership in skin cleansing and deodorants.
On 9 August 2010, Unilever signed an asset purchase agreement with the Norwegian dairy group TINE, to acquire the activities of Diplom-Is in Denmark. On 24 September 2010, Unilever announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell its consumer tomato products business in Brazil to Cargill. On 27 September 2010, Unilever purchased Alberto-Culver, a maker of personal care and household products including Simple[disambiguation needed], VO5, Nexxus, TRESemme, and Mrs. Dash, for $US3. 7 billion.
On 28 September 2010, Unilever and EVGA announced that they had signed an agreement under which Unilever would acquire EVGA’s ice cream brands (amongst others, Scandal, Variete and Karabola) and distribution network in Greece, for an undisclosed amount. 2011 to present On 23 March 2011 it was announced that Unilever had entered into a binding agreement to sell the Sanex brand to Colgate-Palmolive for €672 million, and that Unilever would acquire Colgate-Palmolive’s laundry detergent brands in Colombia (Fab, Lavomatic and Vel) for US$215 million.
On 24 August 2011, it was announced that Unilever had agreed to sell the Alberto VO5 brand in the United States and Puerto Rico, and the Rave brand globally, to Brynwood Partners VI L. P. On 14 October 2011, it was announced that Unilever had agreed to acquire 82% of the Russia-based beauty company Kalina. On 22 May 2012, it was announced that Unilever achieved top-ten status in the 2012 Gartner Supply Chain Top 25, resulting in the company’s best-ever performance in the index and establishing Unilever as one of the world’s top supply chains.
Operations The Unilever R&D Centre in Bangalore, India Unilever is multinational with operating companies and factories on every continent (except Antarctica) and research laboratories at: Colworth and Port Sunlight in England; Vlaardingen in the Netherlands; Trumbull, Connecticut and Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey in the United States; Bangalore in India (see also Hindustan Unilever Limited); and Shanghai in China.  Products For a full list of Unilever brands, see List of Unilever brands.
Unilever’s products include foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. The company owns more than 400 brands, although its 25 largest brands account for over 70% of total sales.  Unilever focuses resources on 13 “billion-Euro brands”, each of which has annual sales in excess of €1 billion. Unilever organises its brands into four categories: Homecare, Personal Care, Foods and Refreshment (which includes tea, ice-cream and beverages).