Unilever names new CEO as Paul Polman retires

Unilever has appointed president, beauty & personal care, Alan Jope (pictured) to succeed as CEO, following current CEO Paul Polman's retirement. Polman will retire as CEO and as a board member on 31 December 2018.

Effective 1 January 2019, Jope will take on his new role with Polman supporting the transition process during the first half of the year.

Polman has helmed the role as Unilever CEO for over 10 years and has worked in the consumer goods industry for almost four decades. During his tenure, the company delivered consistent top and bottom line growth ahead of its markets, a statement read. According to Unilever, its focus on pioneering a new model of sustainable growth has served the needs of its many stakeholders and created returns for its shareholders, delivering a total shareholder return of 290% over his time with the company.

Jope has led beauty & personal care division since 2014 and has been on the company’s leadership executive since 2011. He has also run the company’s North Asia business for four years. Prior to that, he was president, Russia, Africa & Middle East, and spent over a decade in senior foods, home care and personal care roles for Unilever US. He joined the company as a graduate marketing trainee in 1985.

"Polman is an exceptional business leader who has transformed Unilever, making it one of the best-performing companies in its sector, and one of the most admired businesses in the world. His role in helping to define a new era of responsible capitalism, embodied in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, marks him out as one of the most far-sighted business leaders of his generation," Unilever chairman, Marijn Dekkers said.

“Polman’s vision, drive and performance focus, combined with his commitment to serving the best long-term interests of the company, have materially strengthened Unilever. He leaves a more agile and resilient company, well placed to win in this fast-changing, dynamic industry. I’d like to thank him personally, and on behalf of the Board, for his contribution to Unilever," he added.

Dekkers explains that the board chose Jope to take on Polman's role after a rigorous and wide-ranging selection process.

"Having worked for Unilever in a variety of senior management roles, Jope has a deep understanding and experience of our business, the industry, and the markets in which we operate. He is a strong, dynamic and values-driven leader with an impressive track record of delivering consistent high-quality performance. The board warmly welcomes Jope to the role and wishes him every success," chairman Dekkers said.

Polman said that he looks forward to working with Jope on the transition, after having worked closely for many years. "I am highly confident that under his leadership, Unilever will prosper long into the future. His appointment demonstrates the strength of Unilever’s succession planning and talent pipeline," he added.

“It has been an honour to lead Unilever over the last 10 years. Throughout this time, I have been humbled by the commitment and hard work of our people, and their passion for creating a truly purpose-driven company. I am very grateful to them, as I am to Unilever’s many other stakeholders, with whom we have worked to build our long-term, sustainable business. I look forward to engaging with many of these partners – in a different capacity – to help address the many environmental and social challenges facing the world," Polman explained.

“It will be a huge privilege to lead Unilever – a truly global company full of talented people, and brilliant brands. Over the 30 years I have worked at Unilever, I have seen the many ways in which our brands improve people’s lives, positively impacting more than 2 billion citizens every day," Jope said.

He added that Unilever's global footprint includes strong positions in many important markets for the future and its focus will remain on serving its consumers, and other multiple stakeholders, to deliver long-term growth and value creation.

"I’d also like to extend my gratitude to Polman for his remarkable leadership of Unilever and look forward to working closely with him during the transition," he added.

Unilever added that the successor to the role of president, beauty & personal care will be announced shortly.