Home Care is one of the original core businesses within Unilever, tracing its roots back to predecessor Lever Brothers, originally a maker of laundry soap. However, in the mid-20th century, Unilever's leading global position in that sector was overturned by American rival Procter & Gamble. The group is still a major player in home care, especially in emerging markets, but in several countries, most notably the US, it quit home care altogether. The US detergent division was sold to private equity (as Sun Products) in 2008, but is now owned by German home and personal care giant Henkel. A tentative return to the sector came with Unilever's acquisition of eco-friendly Seventh Generation in 2016 but that business operates as a standalone subsidiary, with no Unilever branding. Unilever's main premium detergent brand is most widely known as Omo, but in several important markets it trades under other names including Persil (primarily in the UK), Skip and Ala. All those brands are united under the "Dirt is Good" brand message. Surf (or Sunlight, Drive and Rinso) is the group's value detergent. Other regional laundry products include Wheel, Rin, Coral, Brilhante and fabric conditioner Comfort. Dry wash spray Day2, introduced in the UK in 2017, was a rare new launch from the Home Care division. It is sold only online. These brands are accompanied by two widely distributed cleaning products, the surface cleaner Cif (or Jif, Viss and Vim) and liquid bleach Domestos (or Domex and Glorix). Unilever still dabbles in the dish detergent sector in a few countries with the Sun brand. It also owns Swedish company Blueair, a maker of air purifiers, but global distribution of the brand is very limited. Combined revenues from home care were €10.5bn in 2020, roughly half the size of the group's two other divisions, and representing a little under 21% of group revenues. Operating profit was €1.2bn. Peter ter Culve succeeded Kees Kruythoff as divisional president, Unilever Home Care in early 2019. See also Unilever Beauty & Personal Care.
Capsule checked 25th July 2020
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Historical profile information for Unilever
Adbrands Daily Update 30th Jan 2019: Unilever added to its growing collection of premium niche home and personal care brands with a deal to acquire eco homecare brand The Laundress. The New York-based company manages a portfolio of environmentally friendly non-toxic fabric care and home cleaning products. It will continue to be run as a standalone business by co-founders Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd. No terms were disclosed.
Adbrands Social Media 13th Jul 2018: FRIDAY CLASSIC: Vim 'Prison Visitor' by Zig Inc (2005). Household cleaners aren't exactly the most exciting product for an agency to work on, so this brilliantly simple but exceptionally clever spot for Unilever's Vim caused a minor sensation in 2005, winning a cupboard-full of awards, and establishing an international reputation for its creators, independent Canadian agency Zig and director duo the Perlorian Brothers....[Story continues here]...
Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Sep 2016: Unilever announced the acquisition of green cleaning goods company Seventh Generation for an undisclosed sum. Fortune magazine, quoting an insider source, estimated a price tag of between $600m and $700m, roughly three times Seventh Gen's annual sales. The company makes a wide range of environmentally friendly household and personal care products including laundry and dish detergents, diapers and fem care products, surface cleaners and trash bags. Earlier in the week, Unilever had been reported to be in talks to acquire Honest Co, a larger green manufacturer which sells a similar range of products, for a rumoured $1bn. It's not clear whether talks with Honest, co-founded by actress Jessica Alba, have ended, but it's possible that Unilever decided to go with the smaller of two potential deals in the same segment.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Aug 2016: Unilever announced an unexpected move into a new segment with a deal to acquire Swedish company Blueair, which makes air purification systems for homes and offices. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Blueair had sales of $106m in 2015.
Adbrands Weekly Update 13th Mar 2014: Unilever acquired a majority stake in China's Quinyuan Group, a local leader in water purifiers and drinking equipment. The Anglo-Dutch giant already has its own substantial water purification business, which markets thePureit system in developing markets. CEO Paul Polman said "This deal will more than double the size of our water purification business and will bring together complementary technology from Pureit and Qinyuan and leverage Qinyuan's local marketing insight, manufacturing and distribution strength – all under the Unilever umbrella."
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