Ben & Jerry’s maker Unilever to spin off ice cream unit, cut 7,500 jobs

By Thomson Reuters Mar 19, 2024 | 3:30 AM

(Reuters) -Unilever plans to spin off its ice cream unit, home to popular brands such as Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s, into a standalone business, as the consumer goods group announced a new cost-savings programme on Tuesday that would cut 7,500 jobs.

The spin off will begin immediately and is expected to complete by the end of 2025, the London-listed company said.

Unilever aims to deliver mid-single digit underlying sales growth and modest margin improvement after the split, it said in a statement.

The company also launched a programme expected to deliver total cost savings of around 800 million euros ($869 million) over the next three years. The proposed changes would impact around 7,500 predominantly office-based roles globally, with total restructuring costs now anticipated to be around 1.2% of its turnover during the period.

CEO Hein Schumacher in October laid out plans to simplify the business after admitting Unilever had underperformed in recent years. His predecessor, Alan Jope, was criticised for allowing the group’s brand portfolio to grow to about 400, leaving management distracted from its best performers.

After taking the role in July, Schumacher had said that the company would focus on 30 key brands which account for 70% of its sales, work on improving its gross margin and not undertake any major or transformational acquisitions.

Schumacher told Reuters last month that he would not shy away from streamlining Unilever’s 127,000 workforce.

“The changes we are announcing today will help us accelerate that plan,” Schumacher said on Tuesday.

“We are committed to carrying out our productivity programme in consultation with employee representatives, and with respect and care for those of our people who are impacted.”

($1 = 0.9206 euros)

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru and Richa Naidu in London; Editing by Varun H K and Louise Heavens, Kirsten Donovan)