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Unilever's North American President to Leave Post

Havelock to Become VP-Global Ice Cream in April

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BATAVIA, OHIO (AdAge.com) -- Unilever's president-North America, Kevin Havelock, is leaving that post to become exec VP-global ice cream in April as the company looks to identify a successor to oversee its roughly $10 billion-plus North American business.

Kevin Havelock
Kevin Havelock
A Unilever spokesman said in an e-mail that President-Americas Michael B. Polk will continue in that position, which also oversees North America.

The top North American job has profit-and-loss responsibility for the U.S. and Canada in addition to overseeing such areas as media planning and buying, some areas of non-advertising marketing and sales.

More shifts
In other moves, John LeBoutillier, a 15-year Kraft Foods veteran who joined Unilever in late 2007 as general manager-U.S. ice cream, will become senior VP-U.S. Foods. Amanda Sourry, currently in that role, will become exec VP-Spreads and Cooking, replacing Alan Jope, a native Scot and longtime veteran of the U.S. business, who has become exec VP-Greater China.

The moves come amid rapid changes by incoming Unilever CEO Paul Polman. Since formally assuming the post in January, he has renewed focus on volume growth, scrapped earnings and margin guidance for this year, frozen management salaries, cut travel and consultant budgets and hired a chief procurement officer.

'Fix-it' plans
In a speech to the Consumer Analyst Group of New York last week in Boca Raton, Fla., Unilever Chief Financial Officer Jim Lawrence said the company is developing a series of 30-day "fix-it" plans for brands and businesses designed to jump-start volume growth, which has slowed in recent quarters even as inflation-fueled price hikes have pushed the company's organic sales growth above long-term targets.

Some analysts believe Mr. Polman, by scrapping earnings and margin targets, is setting the stage to cut prices, increase promotion or hike advertising as consumers cut back or switch to private labels. But Mr. Lawrence said the company's focus would be on "profitable volume," not volume at any cost.

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