Shawn Lim
Jan 18, 2024

Unilever to make layoffs in Singapore, realign marketing roles around Asia

Exclusive: Unilever is cutting marketing roles in Singapore across its personal care brands.

Photo: Getty Images.
Photo: Getty Images.

Unilever is making redundancies and realignments across its marketing teams in its personal care brands including Dove, Lux and Lifebuoy in Singapore, Campaign can reveal.

Campaign understands the fast-moving consumer goods giant announced the layoffs to affected staff just before Christmas in December 2023. Sources also tell Campaign the job cuts are wide-reaching and have a significant impact on chief marketing officer Samir Singh’s teams.

When reached by Campaign, a Unilever spokesperson confirmed the news and said: “As we continue to respond to the needs of our consumers faster, we have taken the strategic decision to relocate some personal care roles, currently based in Singapore, to our lead markets across Asia."

According to the spokesperson, several roles will remain in Singapore, while some roles will no longer be required. The spokesperson declined to provide a figure on the number of staff affected and which countries the marketing roles will go to.

“We understand the impact this may have on colleagues and are doing everything we can to support them during this time,” said the spokesperson.

"We are still working the details of the plan and not in a position to share more information."

Asked why staff were informed of the retrenchment just before Christmas, the spokesperson said: "The early timing of the announcement was to provide our teams with adequate notice and transparency."

The spokesperson also declined to share if this round of layoffs is related to Unilever's restructuring that was reported in January 2022 or the layoffs announced in November 2023 where it cut 169 jobs in its New York plants.

They did however share that Singh, who is also chair of Unilever Asia where he is head of Unilever Singapore hub, has taken on a new role where he will report to the Unilever CEO focused on growth and implementing strategic initiatives. This additional role began in November 2023.

Singh, who has been a Campaign Power List member since 2022, was promoted to CMO in 2022. Some of his most notable work has included launching Rexona’s 72-hour Non-stop Sweat and Odour Protection Deodorant in 46 markets, contributing to double-digit growth for the brand.

Globally, Unilever's shares were down 1.98% over the past five days. In October 2023, the new chief executive of Unilever set out a new strategy to deliver ‘faster growth’ after admitting the FMCG giant, which has a $7.3 billion+ annual budget, had ‘underperformed’ in recent times.

Hein Schumacher, who took over from predecessor Alan Jope in January 2023, admitted the company has been guilty of ‘force-fitting purpose in every brand’ while claiming that ‘when done well with credibility, brand purpose can be highly effective.'

Brand leaders will now be allowed to decide for themselves whether their brand needs an overt purpose.

Unilever also said it promoted Nuria Hernandez to CMO of personal care, effective December 2023 based in London. Hernandez, who has spent more than 26 years in Unilever, was most recently general manager of personal care for Latin America.

Source:
Campaign Asia
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