The board said it will proceed with a formal search for a successor and will consider both internal and external candidates. Unilever owns household brands including Lifebuoy, Dove, Knorr, Lux, Sunlight, Hellmann's and Magnum.
Unilever chairman Nils Andersen commented: “Unilever has seen improved performance, enabled by its clear strategic choices and a significant company transformation. The board will now conduct an orderly succession process and support Alan and the management team in further driving the performance of Unilever.
“Alan’s retirement next year will mark the end of a remarkable career with Unilever. Under his leadership, Unilever has made critical changes to its strategy, structure and organisation that position it strongly for success. This work continues, and we will thank Alan wholeheartedly for his leadership and contribution to our business when he leaves next year.”
Unilever CEO Alan Jope said: “As I approach my fifth year as CEO, and after more than 35 years in Unilever, I believe now is the right time for the board to begin the formal search for my successor. Growth remains our top priority, and in the quarters ahead I will remain fully focused on disciplined execution of our strategy, and leveraging the full benefits of our new organisation.”
The announcement follows a bumpy 12 months for Unilever, as noted by Retail Dive.
During this time, the company sold much of its tea business (including Lipton), made an unsuccessful offer to buy GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer unit, teased the potential sale of its food brands, reorganised and laid off 1,500 managers worldwide, and got an activist investor on its board.