Anglo-Dutch household goods manufacturer Unilever said its business transformation programme, which includes a move to a standardised SAP platform, will be completed by the end of this year. Announcing its figures for the first half of 2008, the company said sales had slowed.

Unilever manufactures and sells products for every room in the average household, including Flora margarine in the kitchen, Dove soap in the bathroom, and Domestos bleach for the toilet.

The One Unilever transformation program, which began in 2007, aims to reduce costs in IT and manufacturing. One Unilever will make the company easier to work within, and at its heart is a standardisation onto SAP across all three global Unilever operations in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Unilever claims the programme saved €1bn last year.

Unilever expect the efficiency programme to deliver €1bn in savings again this year. “The changes already implemented in the business have made us nimbler and better able to respond to market conditions,” said Patrick Cescau, group chief executive. “Our innovation programme focuses on opportunities in heath and wellnes, the use of superior technology and rapid deployment into new markets.”

Unilever announced that Western Europe will now be managed as a single region by a new president Doug Baillie. The region completed its move into a single office in Italy and announced the closure of four factories. Western Europe will compete the SAP integration by the end of the year; three quarters of the business are now live on SAP.

The Unilever rationalisation programme has included a deal in April to sell its financial shared services centres in Brazil and Chile to Capgemini. As part of the deal Capgemini provides tax services to Unilever in Brazil. Hewlett-Packard secured a £340m deal to provide infrastructure to the American, Asian and African division. HP provides Unilever with It management and services for the regions.

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