Source: Unilever

Unilever has turned to the head of a Dutch dairy co-operative to succeed Alan Jope as chief executive, as the consumer goods group seeks to boost shareholder confidence after a period of underperformance (The Financial Times £).

Schumacher, 51, currently runs Royal FrieslandCampina, a Dutch dairy and nutrition products supplier with approximately 23,000 employees worldwide and more than €11bn in annual sales (The Mail).

Alan Jope will be replaced as chief executive of the consumer goods giant in July by Hein Schumacher, who is currently a non-executive board member and chief executive at Dutch dairy business Royal FrieslandCampina (The Telegraph).

Nelson Peltz, the billionaire activist investor whose firm has a stake in Unilever, helped to recruit a restructuring specialist as its new boss, fuelling talk that an overhaul of the consumer goods business is on the cards (The Times £).

Business commentary in The Times (£) says the Unilever rookie has a lot to prove. The paper writes that “he is a slightly surprise choice for a company wanting to mend bridges with the big shareholder battalions of the City and Wall Street”.

The Lex column in The Financial Times (£) says the dyed-in-the-wool food executive should know what brands to keep and what to cull.

The Guardian’s business editorial says ‘Unilever’s new Dutch milkman needs to deliver quickly’. “Schumacher would also do everybody a favour by saying at an early stage if he’s wedded to the food business that Jope was prepared to sell to get the GSK consumer deal done.”

The editorial in The Telegraph writes that ‘‘Virtue signalling’ Unilever goes back to basics’. “Critics claim the consumer goods giant has forgotten its real purpose – to make money.”

Lidl has pledged to spend an extra £2bn to buy British products after Tesco and Waitrose came under fire over wranglings with suppliers (The Telegraph).

Lidl will buy an extra £2bn of British meats, cheeses and other food products over the next three years than it had expected previously (The Times £).

The UK arm of the German discounter, which in 2019 announced plans to invest £15bn in British food and farming businesses by 2025, said it had upped the total figure to £17bn (The Mail). 

Business at Caffè Nero has perked up as commuters returned to city centres after Covid. The coffee chain, which has more than 610 stores in Britain, said sales in the UK hit £150m in the six months between June and November, taking them above pre-pandemic levels (The Mail).

Britain is the only leading economy likely to slide into recession this year, the IMF said on Tuesday, predicting that UK household spending would falter under the weight of high energy prices, rising mortgage costs and increased taxes (The Financial Times £).

The UK is on course to be the world’s worst-performing big economy this year, according to the International Monetary Fund (The Times £).

An attempt by Johnson & Johnson to use bankruptcy to resolve tens of thousands of lawsuits over claims that its talc products cause cancer has been rejected by a federal court in the United States (The Times £).