The consumer goods giant has changed up its C-suite and board this year, most recently naming logistics and FMCG executive Nils Andersen as Chairman.
Andersen has been a Non-Executive Director on Unilever’s Board since 2015. He previously served as Group CEO of transportation, logistics and energy conglomerate A.P. Moller - Maersk for nine years. He is credited with exceeding international growth targets at Maersk, though the company’s stock price fell by a third during his tenure. Prior to this role, Andersen was President and CEO of global brewing company Carlsberg A/S, where he had earlier served as Executive Vice President.
The new Chairman’s experience in board roles is substantial. On Unilever’s Board he serves as Chair of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and is a member of the Compensation Committee. Additionally the top FMCG executive is Chairman of Dutch paint company Akzo Nobel NV and Danish retailer Salling Group, and a Non-Executive Director at BP. He plans to step down from his board roles at BP and Salling Group in March 2020.
Unilever’s Board also includes Alan Jope, who was appointed CEO of Unilever in January. Andersen’s chairmanship begins as the company confronts challenges that include slowdowns in India and China, two of its biggest markets. China’s trade war with the U.S. and a slump in domestic consumption are impacting its economy. In India, irregular monsoons have eroded rural spending.
The British-Dutch multinational is also focusing on reinvigorating its foods business and growing market share. Although Unilever’s shares have risen 12% so far this year, sales in this area remain lacklustre. Low-growth categories such as tea, bouillon, mayonnaise and other condiments could be especially challenging. The company has changed leadership in foods twice in the past two years. The current President of Foods & Refreshment, Hanneke Faber, was appointed in May.
Andersen replaces Marijn Dekkers, who is leaving after more than three years as Chairman, Reuters reports. Dekkers is founder and Chairman of Novalis LifeSciences, an investment and advisory firm. He will remain on Unilever’s Board as a Non-Executive Director. Last year Dekkers and Unilever's former CEO Paul Polman came under criticism for their attempt to consolidate the global consumer goods leader’s dual British-Dutch headquarters in Rotterdam. Amidst shareholder concerns that this could remove one of the UK's best-known companies from the FTSE 100, the plan was taken off the table.