09 February 2006
UNILEVER TO DIVEST MAJORITY OF
EUROPEAN FROZEN FOOD BUSINESS
ITALIAN FROZEN FOODS BUSINESS RETAINED
Unilever today announced that it had decided to put the majority of its Frozen
Foods businesses in Europe up for sale. It decided to retain its Frozen Food
operations in Italy.
Patrick Cescau, Group Chief Executive, said: 'Deciding to put the majority of
our European Frozen Food business up for sale has been a tough call. It has been
a successful business for us over many years, we've built some great brands for
consumers with memorable advertising, and they've created real value for our
'However, although we have made great progress in increasing profitability in
recent years growth has been harder to come by. After an exhaustive review we
have decided that the best way for us to create value is by selling the majority
of the European Frozen Food businesses.'
Unilever's review, which was announced in September 2005, looked at all the
possibilities for the business. The review concluded that a strategy to grow the
businesses would not deliver satisfactory value for Unilever.
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Unilever concluded that its great frozen food brands could prosper better under
other ownership and that divestment was the best option. It also concluded that
now was a good time to consider divestment as it would be likely to lead the
expected future consolidation in the frozen food sector.
The Italian Frozen Food business will continue to operate as part of the
Patrick Cescau said: 'We believe it is right to retain the Italian Frozen Food
business because it is inherently an attractive business with good growth
prospects. It has a good track record, has strong leadership positions and is
strategically important in a number of ways. It is our biggest single business
in Italy and its retention plays an important role in future trade relations in
that country. It is also an important source of innovation and technology in the
attractive frozen meals segment that is proving so successful in the US.'
Over time Unilever has bought and sold many businesses and factories and has
built up vast experience of managing people issues both sensitively and
professionally. It is acutely aware of the people issues and is committed to
working with the relevant employee representatives in the countries affected.
Unilever's intention is to sell the business if the price is right, in whole or
in part, as going concerns.
February 9, 2006
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Notes to Editors:
• The intended sale includes the total frozen food portfolio under the
well-known Iglo and Birds Eye brands
• Unilever has a frozen foods portfolio in 11 countries: Austria, Belgium,
France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and
the United Kingdom
• There are five sourcing units:
Cisterna - Italy
Reken & Bremerhaven - Germany
Lowestoft & Hull - UK
• Total turnover is approximately €2 billion
• The Bertolli branded frozen side dishes business in the USA will be
• Around 3,500 people work in this area across Europe, excluding Italy
• The decision does not affect Ice cream which is a strategic priority for
Unilever and will be continued
Head of UK Media Relations +44 20 7822 6010
Director, European Media Relations +31 10 217 4844
This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange