Alan Jope, currently president, Beauty & Personal Care, has been appointed to the position, effective 1 January 2019, with Polman supporting the transition process during the first half of the year.
Polman has been Unilever CEO for more than 10 years and has worked in the consumer goods industry for almost four decades. During his tenure, the company has delivered consistent top- and bottom-line growth ahead of its markets.
Jope, 54, has led Beauty & Personal Care, Unilever’s largest division, since 2014 and has been on the company's leadership executive since 2011. Unilever said he had an excellent track record of leading the business in developed and emerging markets.
He ran its North Asia business for four years, served as president, Russia, Africa & Middle East, and spent over a decade in Senior Foods, Home Care and Personal Care roles for Unilever US. He joined the company as a graduate marketing trainee in 1985.
“Paul is an exceptional business leader who has transformed Unilever, making it one of the best-performing companies in its sector, and one of the most admired businesses in the world,” said Unilever chairman Marijn Dekkers.
“His role in helping to define a new era of responsible capitalism, embodied in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, marks him out as one of the most far-sighted business leaders of his generation.
“Paul's vision, drive and performance focus, combined with his commitment to serving the best long-term interests of the company, have materially strengthened Unilever. He leaves a more agile and resilient company, well placed to win in this fast-changing, dynamic industry. I’d like to thank him personally, and on behalf of the board, for his contribution to Unilever.”
Dekkers said Jope had a deep understanding and experience of Unilever, the markets in which it operated and the industry.
Polman said: “Having worked closely with Alan for many years, I am highly confident that under his leadership, Unilever will prosper long into the future. His appointment demonstrates the strength of Unilever’s succession planning and talent pipeline.
“It has been an honour to lead Unilever over the last ten years. Throughout this time, I have been humbled by the commitment and hard work of our people, and their passion for creating a truly purpose-driven company.
“I am very grateful to them, as I am to Unilever’s many other stakeholders, with whom we have worked to build our long-term, sustainable business. I look forward to engaging with many of these partners – in a different capacity – to help address the many environmental and social challenges facing the world.”
Jope added: “It will be a huge privilege to lead Unilever – a truly global company full of talented people and brilliant brands. Over the 30 years I have worked at Unilever, I have seen the many ways in which our brands improve people’s lives, positively impacting more than 2 billion citizens every day.
“Our global footprint includes strong positions in many important markets for the future and our focus will remain on serving our consumers, and our other multiple stakeholders, to deliver long-term growth and value creation.
“I’d also like to extend my gratitude to Paul for his remarkable leadership of Unilever and look forward to working closely with him during the transition.”
Polman will retire as CEO and as a board member on 31 December 2018. He will support the transition process in the first half of 2019 and will leave the company in early July.
A successor to the role of president, Beauty & Personal Care at Unilever will be announced shortly.