Unilever’s chairman has stepped down from the role with immediate effect in a surprise departure from the dual-listed Dutch consumer goods giant.
Non-executive director Nils Andersen will replace Marijn Dekkers, who has served in the role at the Marmite and Dove soap maker since April 2016.
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He is leaving to focus on his investment and advisory firm, Novalis Life Sciences, but will stay on the board as a non-executive director, Unilever said today.
“It has been a huge honour to serve as chairman of Unilever and I am very proud of the work we continue to do as a truly purpose-driven company,” Dekkers said.
“My decision to step down has been a difficult one to make but I look forward to seeing Unilever go from strength to strength under Nils as chairman.”
Andersen has been a Unilever board member since April 2015, and currently serves on the board’s audit committee.
He will quit a non-exec director role at BP and a chairman role at the private Salling Group in March ahead of Unilever’s annual general meeting.
“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Marijn for his strong leadership and the contribution he has made as chairman,” Andersen said.
“I am very proud to have been asked to succeed Marijn and I look forward to working with the board and the Unilever Leadership team to support the company’s continued growth.”
Dekkers’ departure follows former chief executive Paul Polman’s retirement at the end of last year.
Unilever’s internal candidate, Alan Jope, replaced him in the role after 10 years at the top of the company.
The maker of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream missed its latest estimates as a slowdown in emerging markets hurt sales, seeing it book underlying growth of 2.9 per cent in its third quarter.
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