Unilever is one of the world's oldest multinational companies. Its origin goes back to the 19lh century when a group of companies operating independently, produced soaps and margarine. In 1930, the companies merged to form Unilever that diversified into food products in 1940s. Through the next five decades, it emerged as a major fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) multinational operating in several businesses- In 2004, the Unilever 2010 strategic plan was put into action with the missio'n to 'bring vitality to life' and 'to meet everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene and personal care with brands that help,people feel good, look good and get more out of life'. The corporate strategy is of focusing on core businesses of food, home care and personal care. Unilever operates in more than 100 countries, has a" turnover of €39.6 billion and net profit of €3.685 billion in 2006 and derives 41 per cent of its income from the developing and emerging economies around the world. It has 179,000 employees and is a culturally-diverse organisation with its top management coming from 24 nations. Internation-alisation is based on the principle of local roots with global scale aimed at becoming a 'multi-local multinational'.
The genesis of Hindustan Unilever (HUL) in India, goes back to 1888 when Unilever exported Sunlight soap to India. Three Indian subsidiaries came into existence in the period 1931-1935 that merged to form Hindustan Lever in 1956. Mergers and acquisitions of Lipton (1972), Brooke Bond (1984), Ponds (1986), TOMCO (1993), Lakme (1998) and Modern Foods (2002) have resulted in an organisation that is a conglomerate of several businesses that have been continually restructured over the years.
HUL is one of the largest FMCG company in India with total sales of Rs. 12,295 crore and net profit of 1855 crore in 2006. There are over 15000 employees, including more than 1300 managers.