Unilever drives savings programme as recession deepens

Consumer goods giant Unilever has taken a further sword to its cost base this year through an IT standardisation programmes to help the company through the current recession.

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Consumer goods giant Unilever has taken a further sword to its cost base this year through an IT standardisation programmes to help the company through the current recession.

The household goods manufacturer of brands such as Marmite, Dove soap and Domestos bleach revealed a 38 percent increase in full-year profits yesterday, and savings of €1.1 billion (£960 million) through organisational efficiencies and improvements to its supply chain under the One Unilever plan. The plan involves a group-wide move to standardise IT on the SAP platform.

“The changes already made over the past few years have strengthened the business and leave us well placed to meet the challenges ahead,” said Paul Polman, the new chief executive of Unilever, who said the company would be “driving our savings programme even harder" in 2009.

"By doing this we expect to emerge from the current conditions stronger and more competitive than ever," he said.

Unilever announced it had "made good progress" in simplifying the business, "including the integration of the separate units in each country and the formation of multi-country organisations. This is enabling faster decision making and more efficient operations.”

Sales for the year end grew by 7.4 percent and Unilever managed to increase its operating profit by €1.922 billion to €7.167 billion, with a growth in operating profit by one percent.

Reporting both its end-of-year and fourth quarter performances today, Unilever said sales for the fourth quarter grew by 7.3 percent. Sales in western Europe was up by 1.3 percent.

Today’s results stated that the SAP adoption in western Europe was complete and that the change programme in the UK and Holland was delivering growth.

The One Unilever programme aims to standardise business processes across the three Unilever operating regions: Americas, Europe and Asia/AMET (Africa, Middle East and Turkey). A May 2007 deal with SAP led by global CIO Neal Cameron is moving the organisation onto a common IT platform.

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