Unilever: Domestic Emerging Markets Companies Now Our stiffest Competition (FT)

In an interview with the Financial Times, Paul Polman, the CEO of consumer products giant Unilever, talked about the mounting challenge to multinational consumer groups from homegrown emerging markets consumer companies:

“We don’t see Procter & Gamble as our toughest competitor. People still have this framework – that you compete with these three [global] companies – it’s just not true any more. Most of our competitors in the emerging markets are regional players.”

But while Unilever has bought some local emerging market companies, like water purifying business Qinyuan in China and Russian beauty group Kalina, these were small deals and have not satisfied some analysts that want to see the company be more acquisitive.

Polman’s goal of deriving 75% of sales organically in emerging markets – “don’t mention the exact year; people will again get myopic” – is: “a deliberate strategy. Eighty per cent of the world’s population is going to live in the emerging markets. We don’t run this company for two minutes – we run it for the long term.”

Unilever’s bet on emerging markets is also being driven by a weak US recovery and his belief that Europe is in for 10 years of slow, protracted growth.

To read the whole article, Stiffest competition from local business, says Unilever chief, go to the website of the Financial Times.

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