Unilever CEO Hein Schumacher

Unilever’s incoming CEO Hein Schumacher

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Unilever has appointed Hein Schumacher as successor to outgoing CEO Alan Jope.

Schumacher is currently the boss at global dairy and nutrition business Royal FrieslandCampina and has also been on the Unilever board as a non-executive director since October.

Unilever announced this morning that following “an extensive, global search process”, the new CEO will take the reins on 1 July 2023, after a one-month handover period.

It comes after Jope revealed in September last year that he would step down as head of the Dove, Magnum and Persil owner.

Unilever said Schumacher was a business leader with “an excellent track record across multiple leading companies in the consumer goods industry”.

The group highlighted significant portfolio and organisation change at €11bn turnover Royal FrieslandCampina, transforming the dairy into “a more focused, growth-driven and sustainable business”.

Prior to joining Royal FrieslandCampina as CFO in 2014, Schumacher worked for HJ Heinz for more than a decade across the US, Europe and Asia. In his last four years at Heinz, he was based in China, where he led a turnaround of the Asia Pacific zone.

He began his career in finance at Unilever.

Chairman Nils Andersen said Unilever was “delighted” to welcome its new chief executive.

“Hein is a dynamic, values-driven business leader who has a diverse background of experiences and an excellent track record of delivery in the global consumer goods industry.

“He has exceptional strategic capabilities, proven operational effectiveness, and strong experience in both developed and developing markets.

“The board looks forward to Hein realising the full potential of Unilever as a winning business which delivers long-term growth and value for all its stakeholders.”

Schumacher added Unilver was a business with “an impressive global footprint, a strong brand portfolio, a talented team and an enviable reputation as a leader in sustainability”.

“In my time serving on the board, I have only become more convinced by the strength of Unilever’s fundamentals and its clear growth potential. I will be very focused on working with the Unilever team to deliver a step-up in business performance, as we serve the billions of people around the world who use its products every day.”

Andersen also thanked Jope, who will now leave the business on 1 July, for his leadership.

“The changes he has made to the company’s strategy, structure and organisation leave Unilever far better positioned for success,” he said. “Alan will continue to lead Unilever until the end of June. He will be retiring after a tremendous 37-year career with our business.”

Schumacher will receive annual pay of €1.9m for the role and also be eligible to receive an annual bonus and performance share awards, as well as relocation support.

Shares in Unilever nudged 0.7% higher to 4,049.5p as markets digested news of the appointment.

Morning update

Lidl has revealed plans to invest £4bn in British food businesses in its 2023 financial year.

This accelerates initial spending plans announced in 2019, which saw Lidl commit to a five-year £15bn investment in the British Food Industry across FY20 – FY25, with the figure now expected to hit £17bn.

Lidl GB CEO Ryan McDonnell said: “The farmers and producers that supply us, some of which have been with us for decades, are paramount to the success of our business.

“We see them as partners in our mission to provide households with high quality affordable produce, and for many, working with Lidl GB and being part of our growth has opened opportunities for their own expansion, both here in the UK and across the globe.”

Specialist bakery Finsbury Food Group has acquired Lees Foods, a manufacturer of meringues, teacakes and snowballs, for £5.7m in cash.

Established in 1931, Lees employs more than 200 staff at its site in Coatbridge, Scotland. The company has a UK market-leading position in the manufacture of meringues and has significant capability in the sweet treats category, adjacent to Finsbury’s existing markets.

Finsbury said the takeover was is in line with its strategy to diversify product capability into areas with high-growth potential.

Lees has a broad customer base and has supply relationships with the UK supermarkets in addition to foodservice and export customers.

The Finsbury board said it believed it would be able to leverage the scale and breadth of the commercial team and licensed brand portfolio to drive incremental growth for Lees.

In addition, there was expected to be scale for cost synergies over time.

Lees generated adjusted underlying EBITDA of £900k on adjusted underlying net sales of £21.6m in 2022.

Finsbury CEO John Duffy said he was “delighted” with the move to consolidate the group’s position in the sweet treats sector and grow its manufacturing presence in Scotland.

“Lees currently has a well-established position in the UK meringue category and strong relationships across a high quality and diverse customer base.

“This provides Finsbury with the opportunity to build upon both businesses’ existing retail relationships and unlock further commercial opportunities, including out of home.

“We look forward to welcoming Lees to the wider group.”

Wholesale group Kitwave has appointed Teresa Octavio to its board as a non-executive director, starting on 1 Feburary.

She has “has a wealth of advisory and board experience” and, throughout her career, has been responsible for improving and developing companies’ growth strategy, culture, performance management, governance and organisational effectiveness, Kitwave said in the announcement.

Octavio has held a number of executive roles at global businesses, including at Kantar Consulting and multinationals Diageo and Procter & Gamble. She has also acted as a board advisor at omnichannel company DAME and as an independent advisor for a number of board and C-suite individuals.

Kitwave CEO Paul Young said: “Teresa brings significant experience and expertise, which will complement the existing skill set across the Kitwave board.

“Her insight will be invaluable as the group continues to grow both organically and through acquisition. I look forward to working with Teresa and, together, delivering value for the group and its shareholders.”

The FTSE 100 dipped 0.3% to 7,738.95pts as markets opened this morning.

Shares in Finsbury are up 0.5% to 95p on news of the Lees deal.

Other risers so far include Science in Sport, up 3.7% to 14p, Glanbia, up 3.6% to €11.40, Hotel Chocolat, up 1.2% to 215p, and C&C Group, up 0.8% to 158.6p.

PayPoint, Delivery Hero and Just Eat Takeaway are all down so far, by 2.1% to 506p, 2% to €54.28 and 1.5% to 1,988.4p respectively.

This week in the City

As January draws to a close and the flurry of trading updates are out the way, this week looks a little quieter.

The latest monthly Kantar figures are out tomorrow morning, with Pets at Home also set to issue a Q3 trading update and Mondelez to report quarterly results over in the US.

The BRC’s monthly shop price index is due out on Wednesday.

Meat producer Cranswick will update the markets on Thursday, with Amazon to release quarterly results in the US.

Thursday also brings the latest interest rate decision from the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee.