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January 26, 2022 3:14 pm
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Unilever to Place Subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s Into Separate Division as Part of Restructuring

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

A woman stands behind a machine that is part of a toothpaste manufacturing line at the Unilever factory in Lagos, Nigeria January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

The British conglomerate Unilever announced a massive overhaul of its company on Monday that will include having its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s, which last year said it would end sales in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, operate under a separate “business group” along with other ice cream brands.

Unilever said in a press release that it will veer away from its “current matrix structure” and instead organize their businesses into five separate units: ice cream, nutrition, personal care, home care, and beauty and well-being. Each business group “will be fully responsible and accountable for their strategy, growth, and profit delivery globally,” according to the press release.

The company has also appointed Matt Close as president of the ice cream division and the new arrangement will take effect April 1.

Other ice cream companies in Unilever’s portfolio include Klondike, Good Humor, Magnum and Breyers.

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“Our new organizational model has been developed over the last year and is designed to continue the step-up we are seeing in the performance of our business,” Unilever CEO Alan Jope said in a statement. “Moving to five category-focused Business Groups will enable us to be more responsive to consumer and channel trends, with crystal-clear accountability for delivery. Growth remains our top priority and these changes will underpin our pursuit of this.”

Unilever will also be cutting 1,500 jobs globally as part of the restructuring overhaul, the press release noted.

The company’s announcement on Tuesday came after it was revealed that a hedge fund run by Jewish investor Nelson Peltz has acquired a stake in Unilever. Peltz previously served on the board of other consumer goods companies such as Oreos maker Mondelez International Inc. and Heinz, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In a much-publicized investor letter this month, a top shareholder in Unilever partly blamed the company’s recent poor stock performance on its undue focus on political causes.

“Unilever seems to be laboring under the weight of a management which is obsessed with publicly displaying sustainability credentials at the expense of focusing on the fundamentals of the business,” said the Fundsmith investment fund, citing the Ben & Jerry’s boycott move among other examples.

Following Ben & Jerry’s decision in July to stop selling its ice cream in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, areas it termed “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” a number of US states with so-called anti-BDS laws have withdrawn their investments, stocks and pension funds from Unilever, including Florida, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Texas.

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