LONDON — Patrick Cescau, Unilever’s group chief executive, will retire at the end of the year, the company has announced.
His intended successor, Paul Polman, who is currently executive vice president and zone director for the Americas at Nestlé, will be proposed for appointment to the company’s board at extraordinary general meetings this fall.
“He will take over as group chief executive following an orderly transition,” the firm stated.
Cescau, 59, who became the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant’s first group ceo in 2005 after combining the previously separate roles of Unilever NV chairman and Unilever plc chairman, is a 35-year company veteran.
Polman, 52, began his Nestlé career in 2006 as chief financial officer. Prior to that, he spent 26 years at Procter & Gamble, holding the title of group president for Europe from 2001 to 2005.
“Paul Polman is the right man for the job as he has a highly appropriate résumé,” said Martin Deboo, consumer goods analyst at London-based Investec, adding Polman is a Dutch polyglot and so a good fit for Unilever’s diverse culture. “He has 26 years experience with Procter & Gamble and two years as cfo at Nestlé, during which time its performance improved markedly. He’s run Americas for Nestlé and Europe for P&G — real line experience in two of the toughest markets for Unilever.
“Unilever is two-thirds of the way through its current change program, so the first job Polman will have will be to complete that transformation,” Deboo added. “The second will be to create a different Unilever, perhaps by disposing of businesses more radically than the company has been prepared to do so far.”
Cescau has spearheaded a drive to streamline Unilever, which has involved selling off noncore brands, such as Boursin cheese, planning for the elimination of 20,000 jobs over a four-year period and rejiggering the company’s structure.
“Four years ago, we set out to transform Unilever and to get the business back on track,” stated Cescau. “I believe that phase of work is largely complete, so now is exactly the right time to pass on the baton.”
“The ship is in improving shape,” Deboo said. “Patrick Cescau finally got Unilever to cross the Rubicon and transform a federal organization with a high degree of local autonomy into one which is more category-driven.”
Unilever shares closed up more than 6 percent on both the London Stock Exchange and Euronext Amsterdam Thursday.
“The reaction is quite enthusiastic,” said Rik Zwaneveld, a trader at AFS Brokers in Amsterdam. “The train is already on track and going in a good direction, so shareholders are quite positive about the change in ceo. [However], in Holland we have a saying: ‘First see, then applaud.’”
Unilever’s beauty portfolio, which includes names such as Dove, Pond’s, Vaseline, Sunsilk and Rexona, as well as household products like Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Domestos bleach, was third after L’Oréal and P&G in WWD Beauty Biz’s most recent Beauty’s Top 100, which ranked firms’ businesses by their 2007 beauty sales.
Unilever’s overall turnover in 2007 hit 40.19 billion euros, or $55.09 billion at average exchange for the period. Personal care, which was its fastest-growing category last year, generated 28 percent of revenues, or 11.3 billion euros, or $15.49 billion.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye