Case Study

Unilever is one of the world’s super companies. According to its own website, someone somewhere chooses a Unilever product 160 million times a day. Unilever products are sold in ‘over 190 countries’ (out of the 196 countries in the world). This translates into 2 billion consumers around the world using a Unilever product on any given day. In total, there are 170 billion Unilever products purchased each year. In order to support such a massive undertaking, Unilever employs 171,000 members of staff (2011 Annual Report).
The Unilever Group (Unilever) joins together two principal (parent) public limited companies operating as a single entity: Unilever NV, registered in the Netherlands, and Unilever plc, registered in England and Wales. Additionally, it has listings of shares on Euronext Amsterdam and the New York Stock Exchange. The two companies have the same directors. In addition, Unilever holds a number of other companies and collectively, as the Unilever Group, operates as a single economic body reporting consolidated financial statements. Its mission, as stated in the company’s 2011 Annual Report, is as follows:
We work to create a better future every day. We help people feel good, look good and get more out of life with brands and services that are good for them and good for others. We will inspire people to take small, everyday actions that can add up to a big difference for the world. We will develop new ways of doing business with the aim of doubling the size of our company while reducing our environmental impact. (Source: 2011 Annual Report).
Unilever owns many of the world’s best-known brands in the fast-moving consumer goods market. Many of them are the sector leaders. The company competes in 11 categories and is global leader in seven of them. In fact, in more than three-quarters of its business, it has the leading or second placed brand. Its top 12 brands each enjoy annual sales of €1 billion or more. These comprise:
 Axe/Lynx (deodorants and shower...