Unilever streamlines business into three divisions, chooses Rotterdam for headquarters
Unilever is to streamline its business by reverting to a single legal entity with three core divisions.
Sold as the next stage of its transformation, the multinational will have its corporate headquarters in Rotterdam, the Netherlands while operating Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care and Foods & Refreshment divisions.
The changes, which were finalised in a board meeting on Wednesday before being announced on Thursday, also further strengthen Unilever’s corporate governance, creating a ‘one share, one vote’ principle for all shareholders.
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Unilever's Beauty & Personal Care and the Home Care divisions will each be based in London but the United Kingdom's credentials as a home for its corporate headquarters were ultimately rejected by the company. Its statement insists this was down to over half of its share capital being based in the Netherlands, however, and not because of reported concerns over Brexit.
"The Board believes the move to three divisions and the simplification of our corporate structure will create a simpler, more agile and more focused company," said Chairman Marijn Dekkers. "Our decision to headquarter the divisions in the UK and the Netherlands underscores our long-term commitment to both countries."
Unilever, which employs over 10,000 people in the Netherlands and the UK, has focused its vision around creating a 'more consumer-facing organisation that enables us to roll out global innovations faster and be more agile in responding to local trends'.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”