Unilever CEO Paul Polman retires after 10 years

Posted November 29, 2018 3:30 a.m. EST

— Unilever CEO Paul Polman is retiring at the end of the year after a decade in charge of one of the world's biggest consumer goods businesses.

Polman is stepping down after losing a bruising fight with shareholders over his plan to move the Anglo-Dutch company's headquarters out of the United Kingdom.

Unilever, which owns brands including Dove, Lipton and Ben & Jerry's, had argued that switching to a single head office in Amsterdam would simplify its structure and give it more flexibility to buy or sell brands. But some big investors objected and the plan was dropped.

The decision to ditch the relocation was viewed as a blow to executives including Polman, who initiated the structural review last year after brushing off a takeover attempt from Kraft Heinz (KHC).

He will be succeeded by Alan Jope, the current head of the group's beauty and personal care business.

Jope is a Unilever (UL) veteran, having joined its marketing department in 1985.

He previously ran the company's north Asia business, and served as president of its operations in Russia, Africa and the Middle East. He also spent a decade in senior roles in the United States.