Lindenberg told Die Welt newspaper that Unilever Germany has performed well in tough market conditions but the number of budget food retailers in Germany, and consumers' lack of appetite for branded goods, was a threat for Unilever.
An advertising campaign had started to show results, with sales improving in the fourth quarter of 2002 compared with the third quarter, Lindenberg said. And he added that the company was also removing some of its weaker food and cosmetic brands from the German market.
German retail sales fell last year for the first time since 1997, as recession-hit consumers reined in spending. For 2002 retail sales declined by 2.3%, their worst performance since records began two decades ago.
Meanwhile, the main bottler of Coca-Cola soft drinks in Germany is to close three bottling plants and cut 900 jobs - about 9% of its workforce - to improve sales and distribution.
Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetranke said its bottling plants in the German cities of Cologne, Karlsruhe and Osnabruck would be closed this year.
But the bottler, Germany's largest beverage company, also said it planned to open a new bottling plant in Halle, where non-carbonated soft drinks such as Powerade would be bottled for the German and European markets.