Unilever SAP integration looming with £2.3bn Alberto Culver acquisition

Unilever is facing a large SAP integration, following the announcement it will buy TRESemmé shampoo maker Alberto Culver for $3.7 billion (£2.3 billion).

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Unilever is facing a large SAP integration, following the announcement it will buy TRESemmé shampoo maker Alberto Culver for $3.7 billion (£2.3 billion).

Unilever, which makes related products including Dove soap and Sunsilk shampoo, as well as other household brands, is standardising globally on SAP enterprise resource planning software.

Alberto Culver began a similar SAP rollout and business process standardisation programme, called Project Atlas, two years ago. That project, run by supplier IBM, additionally involves HP, Microsoft and Cisco technology.

Unilever did not immediately comment on how IT will play its part in the integration of Alberto Culver, which also makes the VO5 and Simple brands. But it said in a statement to the financial markets that the acquisition would deliver “significant” operational savings.

The takeover “provides Unilever with the opportunity to use its scale, reach and technology to take Alberto Culver’s brands to a new level in existing markets and extend their presence to new emerging markets”, it added.

Unilever said it would become the world’s second largest shampoo maker as a result of the acquisition, emphasising the importance of the UK, US, Canadian, Mexican and Australasian markets.

Earlier this year the company said its own SAP rollout, with supplier Accenture, was significantly improving “operational execution” and efficiency, as well as dramatically cutting complexity. The most effective cost cutting was being effected in western Europe, it said, the first region to go live with the system.

In recent years, Unilever has moved to “dramatically” cut the number of suppliers it uses, after at one point using 160 vendors for 1,200 applications. That project, alongside the SAP rollout and a company-wide reorganisation, had helped it save £960 million from costs.

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