The firm, which produces brands including PG Tips tea, Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream and Brylcreem, will move some jobs to India and to its historic home of Port Sunlight on Merseyside.
It has announced plans to close its hair care plant in Swansea and a small distribution site at Bridgend, South Wales, after it bought US group Alberto Culver last year. The former Sara Lee plant in Slough, which makes Radox and other bath and shower products, will also be shut.
It is also closing its Ewloe IT site, close to Port Sunlight but just across the border in North Wales, with jobs transferring to Port Sunlight and to Bangalore in India.
The changes, a blow to the coalition’s hopes of a manufacturing-led recovery, will lead to 500 job cuts from its 7,500-strong workforce in Britain.
There are likely to be a further 300 job cuts at contractors and other third-party workers. The plans are subject to review.
Unilever expects to create about 150 jobs at Port Sunlight, where Lord Lever first started producing soaps and detergents more than 100 years ago. It is proposing to invest £40m in high-tech manufacturing there.
Amanda Sourry, chairman of Unilever UK and Ireland, said businesses face “very tough economic conditions in Europe”.
“While Unilever is growing well in the UK and globally, it will always be necessary to make changes which raise our game”.