CEO Alan Jope thinks Unilever should widen its brand portfolio, as society diversifies and it becomes increasingly difficult to be relevant to a large number of people.
At its peak Unilever marketed 1,600 brands, but due to economy considerations that number has dropped to 400, Dutch newspaper FD says. Jope now wants to reverse that trend through acquisitions and developing new brands internally. The world becomes more fragmented, and that is true for consumers and sales channels, Jope reasons. The trend is not completely new: Jope's predecessor Paul Polman already started an acquisition spree that cost 11 billion euros thus far. This has allowed Unilever to avoid stagnation: its first quarter turnover growth was 3.1 %, without these 32 acquisitions that would have been just + 2.4 %.
However, Jope clearly states it is not his aim just to blindly acquire any brand: his targets will be carefully picked based on their relevance for society, for example because they contribute to a cleaner environment. His latest prey, Tatcha, fits perfectly in that aim: the skin care brand has a very green image (using green tea and algae in its creams) and is quite trendy indeed.