Consumer giant Unilever to move its headquarters out of London

The company is to be restructured into three divisions

Consumer giant Unilever to move its headquarters out of London

Image: Unilever

The consumer company behind brands such as Hellmann's, Knorr, Dove and Lyons Tea is to move its headquarters from London.

Unilever is to restructure itself into three divisions - beauty and personal care, home care and foods and refreshment.

It says these sections will be "more empowered, with greater responsibility for making long-term strategic choices and managing financial performance."

The headquarters of the beauty and personal care division and the home care division will be located in London.

While the foods and refreshment division will be based in Rotterdam.

Its corporate structure will be merged into a single legal entity, incorporated in The Netherlands.

Unilever says it will continue to be listed on the London, Amsterdam and New York stock exchanges.

However it would no longer be eligible for inclusion in the FTSE 100 index, because its domicile would be outside the UK.

Unilever says: "The proposed simplification will provide greater flexibility for strategic portfolio change and help drive long-term performance.

"The changes also further strengthen Unilever’s corporate governance, creating, for the first time, a ‘one share, one vote’ principle for all shareholders."

It also says its 7,300 people employed in the UK and 3,100 people in the Netherlands "will be unaffected" by the changes.

Brexit dismissal 

The British government has dismissed any suggestion the change is connected to Brexit.

But the shift is seen as a major blow to the British government, as it tries to calm nerves in the business community about Britain's decision to leave the EU.

A spokesperson says: "Unilever has today shown its long-term commitment to the UK by choosing to locate its two fastest-growing global business divisions in this country, safeguarding 7,300 jobs and £1bn a year of investment.

"As the company itself has made clear, its decision to transfer a small number of jobs to a corporate HQ in the Netherlands is part of a long-term restructuring of the company and is not connected to the UK's departure from the EU."

The firm also has offices in Dublin, as well as business development representatives based around the country.

Marijn Dekkers, chairman of Unilever says: "Unilever's board is fully committed to delivering long-term performance and sustainable value for shareholders.

"The board believes the move to three divisions and the simplification of our corporate structure will create a simpler, more agile and more focused company with increased strategic flexibility for value-creating portfolio change.

"Our decision to headquarter the divisions in the UK and the Netherlands underscores our long-term commitment to both countries.

"The changes announced today also further strengthen Unilever’s corporate governance, creating for the first time in our history a ‘one share, one vote’ principle for all our shareholders."

Additional reporting: IRN