Unilever has started the search for a successor for group CEO Patrick Cescau.

Members of the board's nominations committee have begun to sound out a number of internal and external candidates, although a decision on his replacement is not imminent, according to The Times.

“It's the start of a long, long process,” a source told the paper.

Cescau was appointed group CEO in 2005 and has worked at Unilever since 1973.