Unilever the household goods manufacturer of brands such as Marmite, Dove soap and Domestos bleach, has said its savings and IT standardisation programmes will be driven even harder to help the company through the current recession.

“The changes already made over the past few years have strengthened the business and leave us well placed to meet the challenges ahead,” said Paul Polman, the new CEO of Unilever. He said he would be “driving our savings programme even harder. By doing this we expect to emerge from the current conditions stronger and more competitive than ever.”

Unilever said, “We have made good progress in simplifying the business, including the integration of the separate units in each country and the formation of multi-country organisations. This is enabling faster decision making and more efficient operations.”

Unilever has achieved savings of 1.1 billion Euros from organisational efficiencies and improvements to its supply chain under the One Unilever plan. These included a group wide move to standardise IT on the SAP platform.

Sales for the year end grew by 7.4 per cent and Unilever managed to increase its operating profit by 1,922 million Euros to 7,167m Euros, with a growth in operating profit by one per cent.

Reporting both its end of year and fourth quarter performances today, Unilever said sales for the fourth quarter grew by 7.3 per cent. Sales in western Europe was up by 1.3 per cent.

Today’s results stated that the SAP adoption in western Europe was complete and that the change programme in the UK and Holland was delivering growth.

The One Unilever programme aims to standardise business processes across the three Unilever operating regions: Americas, Europe and Asia/AMET (Africa, Middle East and Turkey). A May 2007 deal with SAP led by global CIO Neal Cameron is moving the organisation onto a common IT platform.

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