Company showcase: Unilever UK & Ireland

The consumer goods company has sustainability at its heart.

by MT Staff
Last Updated: 05 Dec 2017


Head office: Unilever House, Springfield Drive, Leatherhead KT22 7G

Number of employees: approx 2,500


Sebastian Munden, Unilever UK & Ireland general manager says: ‘Unilever is one of the leading suppliers of food, home and personal care products, and has been a purpose-driven company since William Lever first set up his company in the late-19th century. Today, our purpose is to make sustainable living commonplace. We have around 20 sites across the country to help us deliver on this, including three major research and development hubs in Port Sunlight, Colworth and Leeds. I’m proud to lead Unilever’s UK & Ireland business, and that 99% of households in the UK have bought a Unilever product in the past year. Our portfolio is made up of brands like TRESemmé, Persil, Dove, Magnum and Lynx, which are famous across the world, and great UK brands such as Marmite, PG Tips and Colman’s.

The vast majority of Unilever products sold in the UK are manufactured in the UK. Unilever was ranked number one in its sector in the 2017 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In the FTSE4Good Index, it achieved the highest environmental score of five. It led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the 2017 GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey for the seventh year running. Unilever has pledged to become carbon positive in our operations by 2030.’


Our people are instrumental in achieving our ambition, and we believe we offer great rewards and benefits for our employees. Opportunities to share in the performance of the business through bonus schemes and shares are offered to our people. Our business can only be at its best when our people are at their best. The Unilever total reward package is very competitive and offers a wide range of programmes, and our accreditation as a Living Wage Foundation employer goes hand-in-hand with our award-winning wellbeing, family-friendly and agile working programmes.


Sustainable growth is at the heart of Unilever and that also goes for our people. We offer careers and development opportunities to realise those growth ambitions. To win tomorrow we are growing our leadership today. Our world-class Unilever Future Leaders Programme transforms graduates into leaders, while during the past four years we have nearly tripled our apprenticeship intake. Through ‘I am Walls’, we look to give those without employment or training, their first step on a career ladder.


Integrity, respect, responsibility and a pioneering spirit are the values that underpin our business. Putting the needs of our people, including their wellbeing, at the heart of everything we do ensures we are fit to win.


We are proud of our record of greater diversity and inclusion particular with regards to gender, but recognise there is always more to do. This has different facets such as diversity of thinking styles, the rise of leaders from developing and emerging markets, and Generation Y and Z employees whose expectations and demands of the world of work are different. Our global ambition is to empower 5 million women by 2020.


Now in its seventh year, we can see how the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, our blueprint for sustainable growth, is driving growth and increasing trust, helping us save costs and mitigating risks. The economic case is clear: sustainable growth is fuelling our innovations, while consumers are increasingly seeking out sustainable brands. The company’s sustainable living brands are growing 50% faster than the rest of the business and delivered more than 60% of the company’s growth in 2016. We are working with other organisations in partnership, mobilising collective efforts as a force for good and driving the whole system change, including championing the Global Goals.


We use in-depth consumer understanding and expertise in science and technology to create innovative, effective and sustainable products. We are proud of our ongoing investment and commitment to R&D in the UK, and with our three global strategic centres we develop particle-to-product expertise that is exported to 190 markets. For example, this year we launched a new breakthrough laundry detergent, Persil Powergems, representing the first breakthrough innovation in the laundry category for a decade.

This was led from Unilever’s R&D Centre in Port Sunlight, and is manufactured in our Warrington factory. We are exponents of open innovation to share and drive innovations that benefit us and wider society. We aim to deliver competitive advantage while driving sustainable growth, and we will do this because we have the people, the passion and the purpose.

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