Unilever shifts buyers to Switzerland

20 July 2005
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21 July 2005 | Anusha Bradley

Unilever is to merge its European procurement and production operations to a single base in Switzerland as part of a plan to save ?700 million (£482 million) across the company.

Unilever's procurement arm is currently spread across several countries. The company plans that the new centre will be operating by the first half of 2006.

A Unilever UK spokesman told SM: "It is part of a long process we have been working on for the past three to four years to simplify our structure. Essentially, we see the benefits of shared buying power, reduced investment and transport costs."

The move will see 90 senior and middle managers from the purchasing and production operations based in the canton of Schaffhausen.

"We chose Switzerland because it is at the hub of several of our innovation centres, and for tax efficiency as well," he said.

A spokesman from Unilever headquarters in Rotterdam said the company would wield "collective purchasing power".

Despite the relocation of several posts, Unilever said it "does not foresee major redundancies", adding that some junior members of the purchasing team would stay in the UK to oversee operations.

A new head of procurement for the centralised team is yet to be appointed.

The company would not reveal the size of the procurement savings it plans to make as a result of the move.

Unilever had a global turnover of more than ?42.9 million in 2003 and employs 234,000 people in 100 countries.


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