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Unilever's R&D shake-up results in job losses

By Katie Bird , 03-Dec-2008
Last updated on 04-Dec-2008 at 16:12 GMT2008-12-04T16:12:33Z

Unilever is cutting 70 jobs at a UK plant but the consumer goods giant said the future of the site is safe.

The Port Sunlight site in the Wirral is to become one of the company’s key research and development centres, although organisational changes will result in 70 redundancies, according to press reports.

The site will join plants in Colworth (UK) Vlaardingen (Netherlands), Trumball (US), Bangalore (India), Shanghai (China) to make up the company’s six key global research centres.

The moves are part of the company’s ongoing ‘One Unilever’ strategy to reorganise and streamline its business operations.

According to the company, the focus on six R&D centres will help Unilever focus on fewer and bigger innovations, reduce overlap in activities between sites and increase the speed and impact of innvations.

Recently appointed head of R&D at Unilever Geneviève Berger explained: "The steps we've announced today will enable us to go further in focusing our resources on creating fewer, bigger innovations, and deploying them at scale in areas where we want to win.

"These changes to our organisational structure, together with an increased focus on our open innovation collaborations, will enable us to more efficiently deliver improved product performance to our consumers."

For product design and deployment Unilever will be consolidating food activities in the Americas to Englewood Cliffs (USA), Valinhos (Brasil) and Mexico City (Mexico), whereas global laundry R&D will be consolidated in Vlaardingen (NL), Port Sunlight (UK) and Mumbai (India).

The company has announced it expects the changes to result in the loss of approximately 250 full time staff, although the moves could impact up to 390 full time members of staff.

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