Executives at Unilever have come out fighting in the battle to convince its shareholders to back plans for a single headquarters in the Netherlands. In a co-ordinated counterattack after signs of a shareholder revolt, the consumer goods group has stepped up its efforts to sell the proposals (The Times £)
Marmite maker Unilever has taken out an advert in The Times this morning with a “message” from its directors about its plan to ditch its dual headquarter structure, which involves moving to the Netherlands and no longer keeping a HQ in the UK (The BBC).
Unilever has criticised its own shareholders for opposing the company’s plans to quit the UK. A number of major shareholders have pledged to vote against the move. But Unilever has been accused of seeking to pin the blame on others for its woes. (The Daily Mail)
Unilever’s chairman has mounted a staunch defence of the consumer goods giant’s decision to abandon its unusual Anglo-Dutch structure in favour of a single headquarters in Rotterdam, insisting “reports of Unilever leaving the UK could not be further from the truth” (The Telegraph). Marijn Dekkers, chairman of Unilever, on Tuesday urged small UK shareholders to back the company’s proposal to scrap its dual-listed structure and move its headquarters to the Netherlands (The Financial Times £)
Unilever must better explain why it is going Dutch, writes The Guardian’s Nils Pratley. “If two out of three of Unilever’s divisions will be based in the UK, a fact the chairman offered to pacify the UK audience, why put the head office elsewhere? Dekker brushed over the point as if the answer is somehow obvious. It’s not.” (The Guardian)
Alex Burmmer in The Mail writes: “As Unilever bosses play the blame game, it’s time for shareholders to step up… Shareholders must act urgently to reclaim their voting rights otherwise bureaucracy might render them powerless to keep Unilever on these shores.” (The Daily Mail)
Alistair Osborne writes: “It still doesn’t make tons of sense. Everyone can see the benefits of the Marmite-to-Magnum outfit having a single share structure so it can use its equity to buy businesses. But why pick the Netherlands over Britain?” (The Times £)
Britain faces crippling delays at ports and a further fall in the pound if it leaves the European Union without an agreement, Lord Wolfson, chief executive of Next, has warned. He called on ministers to provide clarity urgently for businesses as he described severe border disruption in March as the biggest Brexit risk facing the high street chain (The Times £). Next has warned that a no-deal Brexit could lead to disruption at UK ports and higher prices in its shops, but shares in the company soared as the fashion and homewares retailer said the long hot summer had bolstered sales and profits (The Guardian). Next has further raised its annual profit expectations on better-than-expected summer sales and declared that a “no deal” Brexit would not pose a “material threat” to its business (Sky News)
High street chocolatier Hotel Chocolat has bucked the high street trend, reporting rising profits for the year to July and plans to open new UK and international stores (The Financial Times £). Hotel Chocolat is ramping up its foreign expansion plans after defying a downturn on Britain’s high streets to serve up tasty annual results (The Telegraph).
The Scottish company that makes Irn-Bru has shrugged off the furore over its decision to halve the drink’s sugar content and reported an increase in its market share. (The Times £)
The FT’s Lex column looks at Imperial Brands’ ambitions in vaping, writing: “Vaping’s success has fuelled fears of growing nicotine addiction among the young. Imperial will not be immune from the resulting crackdown. But it will cope better with scrutiny than many newcomers. Disruption does not favour incumbents. Regulation often does.” (The Financial Times £)
British American Tobacco has picked a long-serving company insider as its new chief executive, a move that failed to reverse a long decline in its share price (The Financial Times £).
The first mainstream fresh dairy brand to switch from plastic milk bottles to cartons goes on sale in UK supermarkets on Wednesday, in the latest drive to reduce the use of single-use plastics. (The Guardian)
Poundland is going to stop selling kitchen knives in all of its stores after it was criticised for stocking toy blades and glow-in-the-dark plastic meat cleavers for Halloween. (Sky News)