With some 400 brands spanning 14 categories of home, personal care and foods products, Unilever is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of consumer goods. The company employs 163,000 employees in approximately 100 countries. In 2009, Unilever reported worldwide sales of nearly €40 billion (US$53.3 billion).
Amid industry consolidation, rising material costs and growing competitive pressure, Unilever launched an ambitious five-year program to improve performance by simplifying its global organization and standardizing business processes across the enterprise. As part of this strategy, Unilever set out to reduce its portfolio of brands from 1,600 to 400. After analyzing options, the consumer goods manufacturer concluded its best course of action was to divest its two main European frozen food brands—Bird’s Eye and Iglo—and retain its ice cream business.