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Unilever CFO Graeme Pitkethly to Step Down Amid Cost Inflation Challenges

Published by
Matthew Martins
  • Unilever CFO Graeme Pitkethly to depart by May 2024 after more than two decades with the company.
  • Pitkethly’s retirement announcement coincides with Unilever’s challenges in managing cost inflation and pressure on margins.
  • Unilever initiates a formal search for a successor to lead the company’s financial operations.

Unilever Plc (NYSE: UL) announced on Tuesday that Graeme Pitkethly, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the consumer goods giant, will be leaving the company by the end of May 2024. Pitkethly’s departure comes after more than two decades of dedicated service to Unilever, where he played a crucial role in managing the financial affairs of the company.

Having joined Unilever in 2002, Pitkethly succeeded Jean-Marc Huët as the finance chief in 2015. Prior to his role as CFO, Pitkethly held executive positions, including the role of executive vice president for Unilever’s UK and Ireland business, where he oversaw critical areas such as mergers and acquisitions and treasury functions.

The announcement of Pitkethly’s departure comes at a challenging time for Unilever and the broader consumer goods industry. Escalating cost inflation and mounting pressure on profit margins due to soaring energy and commodity prices have created significant hurdles for the company. Unilever, renowned for its diverse portfolio of more than 400 brands spanning from detergent to ice cream, is actively addressing these challenges in order to maintain its market position.

While Unilever did not provide specific details about Pitkethly’s reasons for retiring from the company, it confirmed that a formal internal and external search would be conducted to identify a suitable successor who will steer the financial operations of the organization.

The move follows Unilever’s recent leadership transition, which saw the appointment of Hein Schumacher as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) starting from July, replacing the current CEO Alan Jope. The decision to appoint Schumacher was well-received by investors, including Nelson Peltz, a board member and activist shareholder.

In addition to Pitkethly’s departure, Unilever also announced that Conny Braams, the company’s chief digital and commercial officer, has decided to leave Unilever in August. Braams played a pivotal role in driving Unilever’s digital transformation and commercial strategy, leaving behind a legacy of innovation and growth in the digital space.

As Unilever prepares for a new era under the leadership of Hein Schumacher, the company remains committed to addressing the challenges posed by cost inflation and enhancing its global market position as a leading consumer goods company. The search for a new CFO will be crucial in ensuring financial stability and providing strategic guidance for Unilever’s future endeavours.

Matthew Martins

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Published by
Matthew Martins

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