issue 172 - June 1987
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
Profit before tax6
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
Turnover, profits and wages8
* 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.
Those employed and those made redundant9
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.