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All you need to know about Nitin Paranjpe, the newly-crowned COO of Unilever

March 15
18:56 2019

Nitin Paranjpe, 56, who heads Unilever’s foods and refreshments business, has been elevated as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Unilever, world’s second-largest consumer goods company. He is the second Indian after Harish Manwani to make it to the global post.

From 2008 to 2013, Paranjpe was Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Hindustan Unilever (HUL), before he became President of Unilever’s foods and refreshments division.

Man of Transformation

Paranjpe is known in the domestic corporate world for navigating India’s largest FMCG company HUL through the tough times of the global economic crisis.

He was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Hindustan Unilever, India and Executive Vice President for the South Asia cluster in 2008.

Having taken the helm of HUL in April 2008 at about the same time the global financial crisis starting shaping up, Paranjpe led India’s largest consumer packaged goods company on an aggressive growth charge over the last five years despite a tough macroeconomic environment.

From 2008-2013, the net profit grew from Rs 2,504.51 crore (for the 15-month period ending March 31, 2009) to Rs 3,828.98 crore in FY13. The period considered is 15 months because until 2007 HUL followed the calendar year for reporting yearly figures. Starting in 2010, the company began disclosing numbers on a financial year basis.

For HUL, sales in those five years grew at 5.71 percent on a compounded annual growth rate basis from Rs 20,457.95 crore to Rs 27,003.99 crore. In comparison, its peers such as Dabur, Emami and Marico fared far better (21.2/22.4/19.2 percent sales CAGR from FY08 to FY13, respectively), albeit on a significantly lower revenue base.

Between 2013 to 2017, he was the president of Unilever’s Home Care business and joined the Unilever Leadership Executive. Figures for home care business are not available for FY13 since the company did not disclose it. For this segment, HUL began reporting numbers only from FY17.

He was appointed as President of Unilever’s foods and refreshment business and member of the Unilever Leadership Executive January 1, 2018. Revenues from the foods and refreshment segment stood at Rs 6,925 crore from January – December 2018, up 10.3 percent during the same period in 2017.

Under his leadership, HUL acquired GSK Consumer in December 2018. By virtue of the deal, the Horlicks brand came under HUL’s umbrella, thereby enabling it to strengthen its positioning in the healthy food drinks segment. Foods & Refreshment (F&R) division constituted 18.4 percent of HUL’s net sales for 9M FY19. With this merger, F&R revenues are likely to scale up to more than Rs 11,000 crore, which will be approximately 28 percent of HUL’s post-merger sales.

Unilever’s new bet signifies the trust that the company has in Paranjpe.

“Today’s increasingly fragmented consumer, channel and media environment requires us to operate with more speed and agility than ever before. With his deep knowledge and experience of our markets, Nitin is ideally placed to work with me and the Unilever Leadership Executive to drive our performance and help deliver our growth ambitions,” said Unilever CEO Alan Jope in a statement to the exchanges

Journey with Unilever, HUL

Paranjpe joined Unilever in 1987, as a management trainee in its Indian subsidiary. In his early years, he performed different roles across marketing and customer development.

Subsequently, he moved to London to work as Assistant to the Unilever Chairman and then returned to lead the Laundry and Household Care categories in India before joining the management committee of the Indian business in 2006 as head of the Home and Personal Care business.

Paranjpe has a degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA in marketing from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai.

He is a member of the nomination and remuneration committee, stakeholder relationship committee and corporate social responsibility committee of HUL.

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