Consumer goods giant Unilever has drawn up an ambitious £5 billion plan to develop its own range of health and beauty brands. Unilever’s chief executive, Alan Jope, is embarking on a strategy to grow its health and beauty brands overseas. He hopes to expand sales further through a string of deals. 

Earlier this year, GSK rebuffed a trio of mega-bids for its consumer health arm, which includes the Aquafresh and Panadol brands and makes £10billion in sales. 

Marmite-to-Dove maker Unilever walked away from the deal after GSK demanded a higher price tag than their final offer of £50billion.

He told the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference – attended by analysts, investors and executives at many of his rivals – that he plans to invest in its prestige beauty division, which was launched in 2015 and boasts brands including skincare firm Dermalogica. The division brings in €1billion (£840million) from more than 100 markets. 

Unilever also plans to invest in its functional nutrition division, which is worth €1.5billion and includes Horlicks. 

‘In the coming years, we intend to build both Unilever prestige and functional nutrition to over €3billion of revenues each through sustained strong organic growth as well as continued bolt-on acquisitions.’ Jope expressed.

In his presentation Jope highlighted a string of takeovers inked since 2018 which he expects to help drive growth across the divisions. Some of which include gummy vitamin brand SmartyPants, skincare business Paula’s Choice and the electrolyte drink mix Liquid IV, which is sold in the US. 

Of the nutrition arm, he said: ‘In only three years we have created a €1.5billion business which grew 22 percent in 2021 and now has some very strong leadership positions.’ 

He also outlined plans to accelerate growth in the US, India, China and emerging markets. 

Unilever has spent €16billion (£12billion) on 29 acquisitions since 2017, primarily in the nutrition business. 

The company has also raised €11billion by selling off brands in that period, including the €6.8billion disposal of its spreads business, which includes Flora, in 2018 to private equity firm KKR. 

Jope said last month: ‘We will continue to re-shape our portfolio through bolt-on acquisition and selective disposals.’

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