By Adam Leyland

A “drastic simplification” of Unilever UK, with a new focus on marketing, will result in a 50% reduction in senior management headcount by September, and the loss of 350 jobs in total by the end of 2008, as new chairman Dave Lewis announced plans this week to “speed up” the reorganisation of the business into One Unilever, The Grocer can reveal.

The €2.5bn-sales Unilever UK operations will go from having five divisions to just two: foods and ice creams, including Marmite, Flora, Pot Noodle and Wall's; and home and personal care products, including Dove and Persil.

And, in a radical departure, each division will be headed up by a marketing director, rather than a business director, as the company looks to engage more effectively with supermarkets through better category management and execution.

In an exclusive interview with The Grocer, Lewis said that following a 90-day review of the business he had decided that “Unilever needed to change more quickly and more radically than previous plans” had suggested.

In preparation for the merger of its three sites in Crawley (chilled and ambient), Walton (ice cream) and Kingston (personal and home care) at a new headquarters in Leatherhead, Surrey in October 2008, half the 80-strong senior management team will be axed by September, with at least 300 other jobs likely to go by the end of 2008.

Heading up the new divisions will be new marketing directors Paul Nevett (food); and Matt Close (HPC). Nevett was formerly business director of ambient. Close ran personal care. Lysanne Gray (homecare), Jacqui Hill (homecare) and Anuj Lal (ice cream) have been offered new positions within Unilever's global operations.

See this Saturday's issue of The Grocer for full details of the exclusive interview with Dave Lewis.

*** As a result of the postal strike, subscribers to The Grocer can read a free digital edition of the magazine online this week. It will be available to read at 4:30pm on Friday 13th July. See Deliveries to the newstrade will be unaffected by the strike.

A list of all the newsagents stocking The Grocer, out on Saturday, can also be found here