In a statement, a Unilever spokesman said: “Contrary to reports, we are not exploring a sale of our tea business.
“PG Tips and Lipton are very popular brands, and although growth of black tea in developed markets has slowed down, we said publicly earlier this month to investors that we are focused on turning this around, while also expanding the brands into herbal teas and other segments that are growing.”
The Telegraph article claimed the Anglo Dutch company had hinted at a sale and reported a top 20 investor as saying: “Unilever has said, ‘black tea, we'd love to be rid of it’.”
Historically, tea has been a core area for UK development and innovation for Unilever, although UK sales of black tea overall have been struggling in the past year.
Investments and developments
The company has made a flurry of investments and developments in the past 18 months. In October 2018, it scrapped plans to relocate its headquarters to Rotterdam amid shareholder pressure. In December, it acquired The Vegetarian Butcher in a clear response to the growing shopper interest in the consumption of vegan and vegetarian foods.
This was followed in February by the announcement of the acquisition of snacks brand Graze, which began as a direct-to-consumer proposition before branching out on to supermarket shelves.
Unilever announced the appointment of new chairman Nils Andersen earlier this month.