01 September 1999

ANGLO-DUTCH multinational Unilever has announced a worldwide strategic cull of its 1,600-strong brand portfolio. Chairman Niall FitzGerald says that three in four brands will be axed, leaving the group to focus on around 400 'power-brands'. Unilever is understandably zip-lipped as to the identity of the doomed brands, although rent-a-quote City slickers were eager as ever to parade their guesses to the media. According to David Lang, a food analyst at one stockbroker, question marks hang over Batchelors, Pears soap products and Radion washing powder. Opined Mr Lang: 'Unilever is to give priority to those brands that are going to create the most value to the company. Those that are not performing are going to be dealt with.' Meanwhile, back in the world of making rather than manipulating money, Mr FitzGerald, rather better informed than the EC2 seers, said that Unilever’s effort will be concentrated on those brands capable of generating annual sales growth between 6% and 8%, and which are brand-sector leaders or runners-up. Athough some lesser labels will be sold or axed outright, the cull will be gradual with brands allowed to wither as resources are switched to the super-brands.