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Unilever CEO Polman to Retire After Failing to Move Company Out of UK, Jope to Take Over

7:57 AM, Nov 29, 2018 — Unilever NV (UN) said Thursday that Chief Executive Paul Polman will retire from the company and be replaced by Alan Jope, who’s now the president of the company’s beauty and personal care business, effective Jan. 1.

Polman, who’s been the head of the maker of products such as Dove soaps, Lipton teas and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for 10 years, has been at odds with shareholders over a plan to move the company’s headquarters out of the United Kingdom to the Netherlands.

That plan was eventually scrapped in a blow to Polman’s standing.

Unilever said in a statement that under Polman’s tenure as CEO, the company delivered top- and bottom-line growth and delivered shareholder returns of 290%. Chairman Marijn Dekkers called Polman “an exceptional business leader” who transformed the company and made it one of the best-performing in its sector. He implemented the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, helping define a “new era of responsible capitalism,” Dekkers said.

“Paul’s vision, drive and performance focus, combined with his commitment to serving the best long-term interests of the company, have materially strengthened Unilever,” he said. “He leaves a more agile and resilient company, well placed to win in this fast-changing, dynamic industry.”

Jope has been the head of Unilever’s beauty and personal care division, the company’s largest, since 2014, the company said. He ran the company’s north Asia business for four years, was president of Russia, Africa and the Middle East and spent more than 10 years in senior foods, home care and personal care roles for the company in the US. He joined the company as a marketing trainee in 1985.

“Having worked for Unilever in a variety of senior management roles, Alan has a deep understanding and experience of our business, the industry, and the markets in which we operate,” Dekkers said. “He is a strong, dynamic and values-driven leader with an impressive track record of delivering consistent high-quality performance.”

Polman will support the transition process for the first half of 2019 and will leave the company in early July, Unilever said. Jope’s replacement as head of the beauty and personal care segment will be announced “shortly,” the company said.

Companies: Unilever NV
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