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Unilever Reshapes its Global R&D

Posted: December 1, 2008

Unilever announced its intention to consolidate its R&D activities into a number of larger sites located in its key markets. As part of its "One Unilever" program, Unilever based the decision on a review of its science and technology capabilities,conducted in 2006, and following the creation of the single category function and the appointment of Geneviève Berger as chief R&D officer. The intention is to combine the three global R&D operations into one Unilever R&D organization and marks a significant step forward in increasing its efficiency, simplicity and focus in R&D.

"The steps we have announced today will enable us to go further in focusing our resources on creating fewer, bigger innovations and deploying them at scale in areas where we want to win," said Berger. "These changes to our organizational structure, together with an increased focus on our open innovation collaborations, will enable us to more efficiently deliver improved product performance to our consumers."

Unilever has chosen six strategic sites—Vlaardingen, Netherlands; Port Sunlight and Colworth, UK; Trumbull (Connecticut), U.S.; Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China—as the global expertise base from which it will deliver an integrated research program. The company will still work with external collaborators.

For product design and deployment, the company will consolidate activities in the Americas to Englewood Cliffs (NJ), U.S.; Valinhos, Brazil; and Mexico City, Mexico. Global laundry R&D is consolidated in Vlaardingen, Netherlands; Port Sunlight, U.K.; and Mumbai, India.

As a result of the intended changes, Unilever expects that approximately 390 full-time positions will be impacted, resulting in a net reduction of 250 full-time positions.