New Internationalist

The Facts

Issue 172

new internationalist
issue 172 - June 1987

Unilever - The Facts

The billion-dollar profit-maker

You may not recognize the name Unilever. But it is more than likely that you will recognize Unilever products - for example, Blue Band, Flora, Surf, Sunlight, Breeze, Snuggle, Pearss, Rexona, Vaseline, Brooke Bond, Krona, Lipton Tea, Rama, Sunsilk, Timotei, Persil, Omo, Wisk, Lux, Lifebuoy, Gibbs, Close Up, Signal, Astral, Crisp 'n' Dry, Twink, Harmony, Summer County, Imperial, Becel, Skindeep, Sure and Shield Deodorant, Vinolia, Summer County and Stork. It is not surprising that you know some of these names: two-thirds of the world's people are confronted by Unilever products every day of their lives.¹

From our cradles to our graves Unilever sells to most of us - yet it is virtually invisible. Anonymity hides the Company's importance. Unilever is bigger - and more influential - than many of the world's nations. Its profits of $1,525 million² in 1985 were bigger than the Gross National Products of Nicaragua, Kenya and Papua New Guinea put together.³ These pages shed light on Unilever's shadowy empire.

THE VIEW FROM THE STOCKMARKET

Share prices4

[image, unknown]


UNILEVER'S OWNERS

Share holder5

Class of share holder
Number of holdings
Amount of holdings
%
£
Banks and discount companies
5,058
556,900
1
Financial Trusts
55
65,767
-
Insurance companies
844
8,336,261
21
Investment trusts
139
320,717
1
Pension funds
163
2,510,022
6
Nominee companies
(companies which act on behalf of the real investor)
4,580
15,310,855
39
Other companies
1,054
2,466,476
6
[image, unknown]
11.983
29,566,998
74
Leverhulme Trust
2
2,195,410
6
Individuals
53,529
7,755,932
20
[image, unknown]
65,424
39,518,340
100

Individuals

Holdings of Average Holdings Number of Holdings Amount of Holdings
£
£
1-100
52
31,459
1,658,760
101-250
162
15,740
2,557,586
251-500
350
4,590
1,608,768
501-1,000
681
1,356
924,632
1,001-5,000
1,583
357
565,260
5,001-10,000
7,744
17
131,657
10,001-25,000
15,359
7
107,514
25,001-50,000
38,233
1
38,233
Over 50,000
81,761
2
163,522
[image, unknown]
53,529
7,755,932

UNILEVER'S PROFITS

Profit before tax6
(in $ millions)
[image, unknown]


PROFITS IN RELATION TO INVESTMENTS

The profitability of particular regions is not completely dependent on new investments: it is partly dependent on capital introduced over a number of years.

Capital invested, operating profits and profits as % of investment 7

[image, unknown]


UNEQUAL REWARDS

Turnover, profits and wages8

[image, unknown]
Profit per
employee*
Wages per
employee**
Turnover (mainly sales) per employee
Wages and increments
per Director***

* Profit on ordinary activities before taxation

** These are averages: they include the salaries paid to Unilever's top 200 managers and 19 Directors. These figures also hide the low wages paid to employees in some countries where Unilever operates.

*** Not including the average £105,263 superannuation per Director.


UNWANTED WORKERS

Those employed and those made redundant9

[image, unknown]

1. Unilever's World CIS Anti Report No. 11;
2.
Unilever in 1985 Annual Report and Salient Figures;
3.
The World Bank Atlas 1985;
4.
The Guardian Mar 4 1986;
5.
Unilever Annual Report 1985;
6.
Various Unilever Annual Reports and press releases;
7.
Unilever in Africa SOMO, Amsterdam, 1984;
8.
Unilever Annual Report 1985, Extel UK Listed Companies Service;
9.
Lepper, C. I. Major Trends and Statistics Unilever Workers' Seminar, London 1984.

last page choose another issue go to the contents page [image, unknown] next page


This first appeared in our award-winning magazine - to read more, subscribe from just £7

Comments on The Facts

Leave your comment