Unilever boss to step down in 2023 amid investor discontent over poor performance

Alan Jope’s retirement comes after foiled bid for GSK consumer unit and arrival of activist investor Nelson Peltz

Alan Jope is to retire as chief executive of Unilever at the end of 2023 following investor discontent over lacklustre performance during his time leading one of the world’s largest consumer goods groups.

The maker of Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Magnum ice cream and Cif cleaning products said on Monday it would begin its search to replace Mr Jope (59), who took charge in January 2019.

Unilever has faced a period of upheaval, after shareholder discontent over a languishing share price was heightened by an unpopular and unsuccessful attempt to buy the consumer health arm of GSK for £50 billion (€56 billion) in late 2021.

Shares in the FTSE 100 group rose 3.5 per cent on Monday morning before falling back to £41.22, or 2.8 per cent above their opening price — still below their level at the start of Mr Jope’s tenure.


One company insider said Mr Jope had long planned to do the job for five years, but would have stayed on if the GSK bid had been successful. Chairman Nils Andersen is expected to step down by the end of 2024, the person said.

Mr Jope’s planned departure follows the arrival of activist investor Nelson Peltz, whose Trian Fund Management has a history of shaking up consumer goods makers. Mr Peltz joined Unilever’s board in May after Trian built up a stake in Unilever.

— Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022