When discussing about some of the oldest company’s in Nigeria, the list of companies can never be complete without mentioning a company like Unilever. This is a British multinational consumer goods corporation headquartered in London, England. Unilever’s products include food, coffee, condiments, ice cream, wellbeing vitamins, minerals, and supplements, tea, breakfast cereal, cleaning agents, water and air purifiers, pet food, toothpaste, beauty products, and personal care.
Unilever is the world’s largest producer of soap. Unilever’s products are available in approximately 190 countries including Nigeria. Unilever Nigeria is however a subsidiary of Unilever overseas holding B.V with a major interest in manufacturing and trading, in the consumer goods market.
Unilever Nigeria has manufacturing sites in Ogun and Lagos with a primary focus on sales of food, food ingredients, personal care products and other natural deodorants with its head office currently located at Lagos with address at No 1 Billing Way Oregun.
Brief History on Unilever: Part of the history of this company can be traced to 1923 when a man named Robert Hesketh opened a trading company in Nigeria under the name Lever Brother’s (West Africa) Ltd. The same company was in 1924 renamed West African soap company and it opened a soap factory in Apapa. The West African Soap Company later expanded to the east and there it changed its name in 1955 to Lever Brothers Soap Company and then built a soap factory in Aba, however by this time, the company had moved into food production.
In 1960 Unilever introduced the one time famous detergent known as “OmO” into the Nigerian market and it gained a lot of traction among Nigerian people that till today, a lot of people still refer to all kinds of detergent as omo. In order to source raw materials locally, the company also implemented a backward integration strategy. As a result of this business decision, the company decided to invest in crop production and oil palm milling. In addition, the company invested in a tea plantation in Mambilla to supply raw materials for Lipton. In 1995, Unilever merged Lever Brothers, which 40% was owned by Unilever, with Unilever Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Unilever U.K. Unilever gained control of the newly merged entity as a result of the merger.
This is the first time a multinational has held a majority stake in a publicly traded Nigerian company since the indigenization decree was repealed. Under Paul Polman’s leadership in the 2010s, the company gradually shifted its focus away from food brands and toward health and beauty brands, resulting in slow growth. Unilever is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index and has its primary listing on the London Stock Exchange. Unilever is a member of the AEX index and has a secondary listing on Euronext Amsterdam. In addition, the company is a component of the Euro Stoxx 50 stock market index. Unilever is also listed on the New York Stock Exchange. On November 30, 2020, the completion of the unification of Unilever’s Dutch and UK arms under a single London-based entity was announced.
Environmental track record
Unilever has declared its intention to decouple its environmental impact from its growth by halving the environmental footprint of its products by 2030, assisting 1 billion people in improving their health and well-being, and sourcing all of its agricultural raw materials in a sustainable manner.
Unilever announced in September 2019 that its sites across five continents are now powered by 100 percent renewable grid electricity, well ahead of its 2020 target.
Legal Structure of Unilever
Unilever N.V.’s former head office building in Rotterdam, which is now the headquarters for the merged group’s food and refreshments Division. Unilever has an Anglo-Dutch holding company, Unilever PLC and N.V., with its registered office in Port Sunlight, Merseyside, United Kingdom, and its head office in Unilever House, London, United Kingdom.
The company has been restructured several times, most recently in 2018 and 2020.The completion of the unification of Unilever’s Dutch and UK arms under a single London-based entity was announced on November 30, 2020.
Alan Jope took over as CEO in January 2019, succeeding Paul Polman. The chief financial officer, is the executive director Graeme Pitkethly. Jope will be proposed as a joint executive director at Unilever’s 2019 Annual General Meeting. Paul Polman previously served as CEO for ten years, succeeding Patrick Cescau in 2009. Unilever announced in November 2019 that Nils Andersen would succeed Chairman Marijn Dekkers, who stepped down after three years in the role.
Below are a list of products produced by Unilever over time, these products ranges from the most popular to the least popular.
List of UNILEVER Products:
Home Care Products:
One may ask, what are home care products? These are products that enable you take care of your home, ranging from detergents or soaps used for cleaning the house or washing your day to day laundry in the house. A good number of these home care products are manufactured by Unilever and they are;
- Comfort. e.t.c
Food and Refreshment:
Refreshments are drinks and small portions of food served, for example, during a meeting or a journey. Refreshment can include food and beverages and a lot of these foods and beverages are produced by Unilever, a lot of you have been using or eating some of these products without knowing that they are products of the company and some of these foods and refreshments are;
- Bru Instant
- Cup a Soup
- Posicle Taaza
- Mccollins e.t.c.
Beauty and Personal Care:
The beauty and personal care products are those items we use to take care of our skin, hair, fragrance e.t.c. These products help individuals take care of their overall health and hygiene. Unilever has been producing a lot of all these products and a lot of Nigerians are unaware of this, I bet you also are and you would be surprised at some of them after going through this list. Some of them are;
- Glow Lovely
- Clear (Nothing to hide)
I bet you are also not aware that Unilever produces water purifiers, what are water purifiers? These are filters that helps to remove impurities from your water by using a physical barrier, a biological process or a chemical process. Two of these purifiers have been produced by Unilever and some of you are using them at home, they are;
- Pure it
Now that we have learnt about these products, how then can one become a distributor for the company?
How to Become a Unilever Distributor
There are requirements necessary for one to qualify as a distributor for any company, Unilever is not an exception in this case. In Nigeria, becoming a distributor is a lucrative business. Most participants or entrepreneurs are fully aware of this, as well as the potential benefits that may accrue to them. This provides them with the opportunity to invest in such a venture. It is worth noting, however, that not every company has a strong brand. This is why Unilever will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to become a Unilever (Formerly Lever Brothers PLC) distributor.
You may have heard of Lever Brothers in the news or from other sources prior to it’s rebranding as Unilever Nigeria PLC. However, many Nigerians are unaware that this company’s products can be found in almost every household in the country even in yours.
This is especially true given that its products are classified as fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) (Fast Moving Consumer Goods). You may be surprised, but wait until you see this: these products are surprisingly popular sundry consumer products such as; Close-up toothpaste, Royco, Omo detergent and Blueband margarine e.t.c. As you can see, these are popular products that have been accepted by almost every household in the country, so selling these products will not be a problem unlike some other less popular products. So if you are looking to partner with Unilever and become a distributor, below are some of the things you should take note of;
The Financial Capital
This is critical in order to achieve your goal. As a result, it is critical that you have the necessary funding to launch this business. You may wonder how much funding is required. The required start-up capital ranges from Nine million to thirty five million. However, if you intend to seek debt financing, the loans must not surpass 50% of your operating expenses.
Personnel and Equipment
There are additional requirements to becoming a Unilever distributor. This includes having the necessary equipment for the job as well as being able to hire your workforce. These should include, among other things, a manager, salespeople, and accountants. We refer to equipment as distribution trucks or vans that will be used to transport goods from your storeroom to your customers. The availability of these will make it easier for you to conduct business. Once you meet these requirements, you can apply for distributorship rights anywhere in Nigeria.
A Comprehensive Understanding of how the Consumer Goods Market Functions
To become a Unilever employee, you must understand how the market works. The consumer goods market is highly dynamic, with consumer behavior changing on a regular basis. Understanding how this works will give you an advantage in your quest to become a distributor. A good distributor always aims to have a perfect understanding of how his market functions.
Excellent Communication Skills
Another requirement for becoming a distributor is the ability to communicate effectively. I believe a lot of people will ask here, what you mean by having “excellent communication skills”? Simply put, you should be able to communicate effectively in English, a local language, and Pidgin. This is necessary because these are the dominant languages that your customers will most likely speak. And it is imperative that you speak to them in a language they understand and are comfortable with. Assuming your customers are mostly Yoruba’s. it is necessary that you know how to communicate in Yoruba or at least speak Pidgin.
Having high integrity is a necessary prerequisite for becoming a Unilever distributor. This is critical to the company because you will be an extension of the company. As a result, you must be trustworthy and capable of working within the confines of company policy. Anything less is insufficient and will result in sanctions if found wanting. The company should be able to trust you and rely on you in certain situations.
In Conclusion, being a qualified Unilever distributor allows you to be a part of a successful brand that has been around for over 7 decades. It allows you to participate in its tradition of providing high-quality consumer goods to households. As a result of becoming a distributor, you are entitled to training sessions designed to help you reach your full potential. Even if these are made available after qualifying as a distributor, it is a continuous process.
It goes without saying that the profit potential is enormous. Diligence and hard work in managing your business affairs have the potential to greatly increase profitability and propel you to the pinnacle!
Now that we have talked about what it takes to become a distributor, I believe anyone who plans or is interested in partnering with Unilever knows what to do, what steps to take and not to take. Now let us talk about the brand logo of Unilever, which can be used to easily identify them on any of their products. A lot of people don’t know these products because they aren’t aware of the logo or when they see it, they do not know what it stands for.
A brief history about Unilever’s logo says that it was in all caps and sans-serif typeface in 1930. Wolff Olins, a brand consultancy firm, designed the current Unilever corporate logo, which was introduced in 2004. The ‘U’ shape now contains 25 distinct symbols, each representing one of the company’s sub-brands or corporate values. The brand identity was created with the idea of “bringing vitality to life.”
In summary, we have been able to explain in detail how the company came to be, their products and how to become a distributor for the company. This article holds all the information for anyone looking forward to learn about the company.