Unilever pays £1.1bn for US rival's body care brands

Unilever will smarten up its range of grooming products by adding brands including Brylcreem and Radox after agreeing to buy Sara Lee's personal care business for €1.2bn (£1.1bn).

The consumer products giant said the deal would strengthen its position in "skin cleansing and deodorants" boosting a line that includes Dove soap, Sure, Axe and Vaseline.

It marks Unilever's largest takeover in almost a decade and will increase its market share for skin cleansing products from 13 per cent to 23 per cent. It is expected to close the deal next year.

Simon Marshall-Lockyer, an analyst at Jefferies, said the agreement marked a "material step in Unilever's ambitions to grow the company following five years of attrition through divestments and restructuring".

Paul Polman, Unilever's chief executive, called personal care a "strategic category and a key growth driver" for the company. The Sara Lee brands generated €750m in sales over the year to June and Unilever will look to expand them in emerging markets.

Sara Lee is selling off non-core businesses as part of chief executive Brenda Barnes's plan to turn the company around. It will use some of the proceeds to buy back $1bn in stock.

Comments