Unilever announces consolidation of US personal care operations

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags North america

Unilever is combining its Chicago-based antiperspirants, deodorant and hair care group with its skin care division as part of its cost saving initiatives.

The move will create a US personal care business unit based at the consumer giant’s North American headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Unilever says it will close its Michigan Avenue office in Chicago by July 2010, a move that will affect some 200 personnel who are currently employed at the location.

Relocation and alternative employment

Although Unilever has not commented on what will happen to the workers at the site, it is expected that a significant number will be offered alternative employment with the company, with the possibility of relocation.

“We are committed to working closely with our colleagues in Chicago to ensure a smooth transition,”​ said Michael Polk president of Unilever Americas.

The move is part of an ongoing cost savings program across the company’s global operations, aimed at creating a leaner and more efficient business.

North American integration

Since 2006 Unilever has integrated a number of its operations in North America with the aim of improving efficiencies with the ultimate aim of giving it great financial resources to develop its brands.

Between 2008 and 2009 the company concentrated on integrating its global supply chain, while in 2007 it integrated its North American ice cream business into its US operations, while combining its Connecticut and Illinois offices in 2006.

Indeed, the announcement about the company’s US personal care operations comes in the same week that the company has announced a deal to outsource its global IT management services to Unisys.

IT operations outsourced

The deal will provide IT support for 60,000 staff at the Dutch-UK consumer giant and is expected to bring total savings within its IT division to £960m ($1.58bn), since the plan was first implemented in 2007.

Arch rival Procter & Gamble is on a similar path of integration and consolidation in an effort to cut costs.

Earlier this week the company announced that it was consolidating two of its research and development facilities in the US as part of aims to move product development closer to the main operations they support.

The company is closing its Needham, Michigan, facility, which it acquired as part of its Gillette acquisition in 2005, alongside its Miami Valley facility in Colerain Township, Ohio.

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