HUL to merge foods and refreshments division


Hindustan Unilever has decided to combine its foods and refreshments business into one division effective July in an effort to increase agility, in line with the global category structure of parent Unilever.

As part of the move, Geetu Verma, existing executive director for foods will move to Rotterdam as global vice-president of nutrition and naturals platform in Unilever. Sudhir Sitapati, currently the executive director, refreshments will head the combined segment, the company said in a statement to the stock exchange.

“This integration will help HULSE 0.56 % increase organizational agility and better serve local consumers while harnessing the advantage of global scale,” HUL statement said. The combined business accounts for nearly a fifth or Rs 6328 crore to HUL’s overall sales

Nearly two years ago, HUL, the country’s largest consumer goods firm had split these divisions to have sharper focus in these high growth segments. In April last year, the Anglo-Dutch consumer giant announced restructuring its firm including buying back shares, combining its foods and refreshments businesses, reviewing the dual structure and disposing of its underperforming spreads business in the wake of a failed takeover approach for the multinational from Kraft Heinz.

HUL’s food business includes Knorr soup and Kissan Jam and its refreshment brands include Bru coffee, Lipton tea and Magnum ice-cream.

Geetu Verma, 50, joined HUL in 2011 after stints in other top FMCG firms such as P&G, Seagram and PepsiCo in India and Europe. For Unilever, foods and refreshments have a 43% share in total sales and is headed by Nitin Paranjpe, who was the CEO at HUL five years ago.