Consumer goods giant Unilever has kicked off a race for one of the most coveted jobs in the industry beginning a search for a new chief executive as veteran boss Paul Polman prepares to step down.
The company has engaged executive search firm Egon Zehnder International to prepare for a change in leadership, Sky News reported last night.
Polman has been CEO since early 2009, but is now expected to step down within two years.
At this stage the search is said to be centred on preparing the board for the process, but a succession will ultimately be led by chair Marijn Dekkers.
It comes amid a time of change for the company as a fierce competition continues for Unilever’s spreads business, which it is expected to sell for over £6bn.
The company is also expected to shake up its corporate structure as Brexit approaches, by moving to a single Dutch headquarters.
As CEO, Polman has overseen a period of aggressive M&A in the sector, including Kraft Heinz’s unsolicited approach for Unilever.
Unilever itself has picked up a raft of new brands during his tenure, with recent acquisitions including Bristol-based ethical tea brand Pukka.