Unilever appoints new CEO Hein Schumacher

Unilever, the consumer goods giant which owns brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Hellman’s and Dove, has announced the hire of Hein Schumacher as its new chief executive officer.

Hein will replace incumbent chief exec Alan Jope from July following a one-month handover period, with Jope previously stating his desire to retire at the end of 2023. Hein became a non-executive director of Unilever in October 2022.

The appointment of Hein marks the first time Unilever has given its biggest job to an external candidate since the hire of Nestle's Paul Polman in 2008. Hein is no stranger to the company though, beginning his career with a four year stint as a finance manager at Unilever from 1997-2001.

The exec beat a number of internal candidates, with Reuters previously reporting that the company was considering the likes of finance boss Graeme Pitkethly, personal care division boss Fabian Garcia and nutrition group lead Hanneke Faber.

Hein joins from Royal FrieslandCampina where he served as chief executive of the company and expanded its business to over 40 countries with an annual turnover of €11 billion. Prior to joining Royal FrieslandCampina first as chief financial officer in 2014 Hein worked for H.J. Heinz for over a decade, most recently turning around the company’s struggling Asia Pacific business.

Unilever Chairman Nils Andersen said: “We are delighted to welcome Hein as our new Chief Executive, after an extensive, global search process. Hein is a dynamic, values-driven business leader who has a diverse background of experiences and an excellent track record of delivery in the global consumer goods industry.”

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Alan for his leadership of Unilever. The changes he has made to the company’s strategy, structure and organisation leave Unilever far better positioned for success. Alan will continue to lead Unilever until the end of June. He will be retiring after a tremendous 37-year career with our business.”

Hein said: “I am delighted to have been appointed to lead Unilever. It is a business with an impressive global footprint, a strong brand portfolio, a talented team and an enviable reputation as a leader in sustainability. In my time serving on the board, I have only become more convinced by the strength of Unilever’s fundamentals and its clear growth potential.

“I will be very focused on working with the Unilever team to deliver a step-up in business performance, as we serve the billions of people around the world who use its products every day.”

The hire of Hein had been advocated internally by billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz, who became a member of the board in July 2022 after it emerged that he had built a stake in the company. He said: "I first met Hein when I served as a director at the H.J. Heinz Company from 2006 to 2013 and was impressed by his leadership skills and business acumen."

Jope's time as boss of Unilever meanwhile will likely be defined by underperformance in the key European market, along with the failed bids for GlaxoSmithKline's consumer healthcare business in 2022.

    Share Story:

Recent Stories

Find out how HULFT can help you manage data, integration, supply chain automation and digital transformation across your retail enterprise.
Talking shop: retail technology solutions from Brother
Retail Systems editor Peter Walker sits down with Brother’s senior commercial client manager Jessica Stansfield to talk through the company’s solutions for retailers and hospitality businesses, what’s new in labelling technology, and the benefits of outsourcing printing.