Unilever moves headquarters from London to Rotterdam
Marmite maker insists decision to quit UK after almost 90 years is not linked to Brexit
Unilever has announced that it has picked Rotterdam over London as its main base - a move that deals a “sharp blow to Britain’s status as a European business hub ahead of Brexit”, according to commentators.
The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant, maker of brands including Marmite, Dove and Persil, has been jointly based in London and Rotterdam since it was founded 88 years ago, says The Independent. The company has annual UK sales worth around £1.8bn.
Unilever’s chief financial officer, Graeme Pitkethly, insisted Brexit “was absolutely not a factor” in the decision, which was announced after a year-long review.
The group says it will be simplifying its structure into a single legal entity incorporated in the Netherlands, allowing the company to be a “simpler, more agile and more focused business”.
Its shares will continue to be listed in London, Amsterdam and New York, The Guardian reports. The firm will also keeps its building at Blackfriars, London, to act as the hub of its beauty and home divisions.
Unilever says the jobs of its 7,300 employees in the UK, and 3,100 in the Netherlands, will not be at risk, although some workers may be asked to relocate from London to Rotterdam.
A UK government spokesperson attempted to play down the significance of the move, saying Unilever’s “decision to transfer a small number of jobs to a corporate HQ in the Netherlands is part of a long-term restructuring of the company and is not connected to the UK's departure from the EU”.
But according to the Sky News website: “The shift abroad will be seen as a major blow to the Government as it tries to calm nerves in the business community about Britain’s decision to leave the EU.”