Unilever picks Dutch dairy chief as new CEO
British consumer goods group Unilever on Monday named Hein Schumacher, the current head of Dutch dairy and nutrition firm Royal FrieslandCampina, as its new chief executive.
The Dutchman, who had joined Unilever in October as a non-executive director, will succeed Alan Jope as CEO at the start of July, Unilever said in a statement.
The company’s key household brands include Magnum ice cream, Cif surface cleaner and Dove soap.
Schumacher, 51, has been head of Royal FrieslandCampina since 2018, and was formerly held various roles at US food giant Heinz.
“Hein is a dynamic, values-driven business leader who has a diverse background of experiences and an excellent track record of delivery in the global consumer goods industry,” said Unilever chairman Nils Andersen in the statement.
“The board looks forward to Hein realising the full potential of Unilever as a winning business which delivers long-term growth and value for all its stakeholders,” he added.
Scotland-born Jope will depart Unilever after coming under fierce pressure from activist investors over a failed takeover bid.
He spent 37 years in total at the group and has held the top job since 2019.
Jope leaves after Unilever’s failed $50-billion bid at the start of 2022 for the former health care unit of drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.
In response, Jope slashed around 1,500 management jobs worldwide in a major restructure that was widely seen as a bid to appease unhappy investors. He announced his exit last September.
Schumacher said he was “delighted” to have been appointed to head Unilever.
“In my time serving on the board, I have only become more convinced by the strength of Unilever’s fundamentals and its clear growth potential,” he said.
“I will be very focused on working with the Unilever team to deliver a step-up in business performance, as we serve the billions of people around the world who use its products every day.”
Under Jope, Unilever became a wholly British company at the end of 2020 after it completed a merger of its Dutch and British corporate entities.