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Hindustan Unilever (HUL) is India's largest fast moving consumer goods company, with leadership in Home & Personal Care Products and Foods & Beverages. HUL's brands, spread across 20 distinct consumer categories, touch the lives of two out of three Indians. In the summer of 1888, visitors to the Kolkata harbour noticed crates full of Sunlight soap bars, embossed with the words 'Made in England by Lever Brothers'. With it, began an era of marketing branded Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).Soon after followed Lifebuoy in 1895 and other famous brands like Pears, Lux and Vim. Vanaspati was launched in 1918 and the famous Dalda brand came to the market in 1937.
In 1931, Unilever set up its first Indian subsidiary, Hindustan Vanaspati Manufacturing Company, followed by Lever Brothers India Limited (1933) and United Traders Limited (1935). These three companies merged to form HUL in November 1956; HUL offered 10% of its equity to the Indian public, being the first among the foreign subsidiaries to do so. Unilever now holds 52.10% equity in the company. The rest of the shareholding is distributed among about 360,675 individual shareholders and financial institutions.
The erstwhile Brooke Bond's presence in India dates back to 1900. By 1903, the company had launched Red Label tea in the country. In 1912, Brooke Bond & Co. India Limited was formed. Brooke Bond joined the Unilever fold in 1984 through an international acquisition. The erstwhile Lipton's links with India were forged in 1898. Unilever acquired Lipton in 1972, and in 1977 Lipton Tea (India) Limited was incorporated.
Pond's (India) Limited had been present in India since 1947. It joined the Unilever fold through an international acquisition of Chesebrough Pond's USA in 1986.
Since the very early years, HUL has vigorously responded to the stimulus of economic growth. The growth process has been accompanied by judicious diversification, always in line with Indian opinions and aspirations.The 1990s also witnessed a string of crucial mergers, acquisitions and alliances on the Foods and Beverages front. In 1992, the erstwhile Brooke Bond acquired Kothari General Foods, with significant interests in Instant Coffee. In 1993, it acquired the Kissan business from the UB Group and the Dollops Icecream business from Cadbury India.
As a measure of backward integration, Tea Estates and Doom Dooma, two plantation companies of Unilever, were merged with Brooke Bond. Then in July 1993, Brooke Bond India and Lipton India merged to form Brooke Bond Lipton India Limited (BBLIL), enabling greater focus and ensuring synergy in the traditional Beverages business. 1994 witnessed BBLIL launching the Wall's range of Frozen Desserts. By the end of the year, the company entered into a strategic alliance with the Kwality Icecream Group families and in 1995 the Milkfood 100% Icecream marketing and distribution rights too were acquired.
Finally, BBLIL merged with HUL, with effect from January 1, 1996. The internal restructuring culminated in the merger of Pond's (India) Limited (PIL) with HUL in 1998. The two companies had significant overlaps in Personal Products, Speciality Chemicals and Exports businesses, besides a common distribution system since 1993 for Personal Products. The two also had a common management pool and a technology base. The amalgamation was done to ensure for the Group, benefits from scale economies both in domestic and export markets and enable it to fund investments required for aggressively building new categories.
In January 2000, in a historic step, the government decided to award 74 per cent equity in Modern Foods to HUL, thereby beginning the divestment of government equity in public sector undertakings (PSU) to private sector partners. HUL's entry into Bread is a strategic extension of the company's wheat business. In 2002, HUL acquired the government's remaining stake in Modern Foods.
In 2003, HUL acquired the Cooked Shrimp and Pasteurised Crabmeat business of the Amalgam Group of Companies, a leader in value added Marine Products exports.
HUL's brands – like Lifebuoy, Lux, Surf Excel, Rin, Wheel, Fair & Lovely, Pond's, Sunsilk, Clinic, Pepsodent, Close–up, Lakme, Brooke Bond, Kissan, Knorr–Annapurna, Kwality Wall's – are household names across the country and span many categories – soaps, detergents, personal products, tea, coffee, branded staples, ice cream and culinary products. They are manufactured over 37 factories across India. The operations involve over 2,000 suppliers and associates. HUL's distribution network, comprising about 2,500 redistribution stockists, covering 6.3 million retail outlets reaching the entire urban population, and about 250 million rural consumers.
HUL has traditionally been a company, which incorporates latest technology in all its operations. The Hindustan Unilever Research Centre (HURC) was set up in 1958, and now has facilities in Mumbai and Bangalore. HURC and the Global Technology Centres in India have over 200 highly qualified scientists and technologists, many with post–doctoral experience acquired in the US and Europe.
HUL is also running a rural health programme – Lifebuoy Swasthya Chetana. The programme endeavours to induce adoption of hygienic practices among rural Indians and aims to bring down the incidence of diarrhoea. It has already touched 120 million people in approximately 50, 676 villages across India. The vision is to make a billion Indians feel safe and secure.
FMCG major Hindustan Unilever (HUL) has received its board’s nod for divestment of 43.31% stake in Hindustan Field Services (HFS) to Smollan Group 30 June 27, 2010. HFS is a joint venture (JV) company between HUL and Smollan Holdings. It was incorporated for building capabilities for 'in–store' execution in Modern Trade and operates as a dedicated venture with processes, capability and culture of execution. Smollan Group currently holds 49% stake in HFS.
In 2012 HUL entered into an agreement with Unilever for manufacturing, marketing and distributing the Brylcreem brand in India.
Product range of the company includes:
Home & Personal care
- Surf Excel
- Sunsilk Naturals
Ayurvedic Personal & Health Care
- Fair & Lovely
- Brooke Bond
- Brooke Bond Bru
- Kwality Wall's
- 1933 –Application made for setting up soap factory next to the Vanaspati factory at Sewri; Lever Brothers India Limited incorporated on October 17.
- 1934 –Soap manufacture begins at Sewri factory in October; North West Soap Company's Garden Reach Factory, Kolkata rented and expanded to produce Lever brands.
- 1935 – United Traders incorporated on May 11 to market Personal Products.
- 1937 – Mr. Prakash Tandon, one of the first Indian covenanted managers, joins HVM.
- 1939 – Garden Reach Factory purchased outright; concentration on building up Dalda Vanaspati as a brand.
- 1941 – Agencies in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Karachi taken over; company acquires own sales force.
- 1942 – Unilever takes firm decision to 'train Indians to take over junior and senior management positions instead of Europeans'.
- 1943 – Personal Products manufacture begins in India at Garden Reach Factory. 1944 – Reorganisation of the three companies with common management but separate marketing operations.
- 1947 – Pond's Cold Cream launched.
- 1951 – Mr. Prakash Tandon becomes first Indian Director. Shamnagar, Tiruchy, and Ghaziabad Vanaspati factories bought.
- 1955 – 65% of managers are Indians.
- 1956 – Three companies merge to form Hindustan Unilever Limited, with 10% Indian equity participation.
- 1957 – Unilever Special Committee approves research activity by Hindustan Unilever.
- 1958 – Research Unit starts functioning at Mumbai Factory.
- 1959 – Surf launched.
- 1961 – Mr. Prakash Tandon takes over as the first Indian Chairman; 191 of the 205 managers are Indians.
- 1962 – Formal Exports Department starts.
- 1963 Head Office building at Backbay Reclamation, Mumbai, opened.
- 1964 – Etah dairy set up, Anik ghee launched; Animal feeds plant at Ghaziabad; Sunsilk shampoo launched.
- 1965 – Signal toothpaste launched; Indian shareholding increases to 14%.
- 1966 – Lever's baby food, more new foods introduced; Nickel catalyst production begins; Indian shareholding increases to 15%. Statutory price control on Vanaspati; Taj Mahal tea launched.
- 1967 – Hindustan Unilever Research Centre, opens in Mumbai.
- 1968 – Mr. V. G. Rajadhyaksha takes over as Chairman from Mr. Prakash Tandon; Fine Chemicals Unit commissioned at Andheri; informal price control on soap begins.
- 1969 – Rin bar launched; Fine Chemicals Unit starts production; Bru coffee launched
- 1971 – Mr. V. G. Rajadhyaksha presents plan for diversification into chemicals to Unilever Special Committee – plan approved; Clinic shampoo launched.
- 1973 – Mr. T. Thomas takes over as Chairman from Mr. V. G. Rajadhyaksha.
- 1974 – Pilot plant for industrial chemicals at Taloja; informal price control on soaps withdrawn; Liril marketed.
- 1975 – Ten–year modernisation plan for soaps and detergent plants; Jammu project work begins; statutory price control on Vanaspati and baby foods withdrawn; Close–up toothpaste launched.
- 1976 – Construction work of Haldia chemicals complex begins; Taloja chemicals unit begins functioning.
- 1977 – Jammu synthetic Detergents plant inaugurated; Indian shareholding increases to 18.57%.
- 1978 – Indian shareholding increases to 34%; Fair & Lovely skin cream launched.
- 1979 – Sodium Tripolyphospate plant at Haldia commissioned.
- 1980 – Dr. A. S. Ganguly takes over as Chairman from Mr. T. Thomas; Unilever shareholding in the company comes down to 51%.
- 1982 – Government allows 51% Unilever shareholding.
- 1984 – Foods, Animal Feeds businesses transferred to Lipton.
- 1986 – Agri–products unit at Hyderabad starts functioning – first range of hybrid seeds comes out; Khamgaon Soaps unit and Yavatmal Personal Products unit start production.
- 1988 – Launch of Lipton Taaza tea.
- 1990 – Mr. S. M. Datta takes over as Chairman from Dr. A. S. Ganguly.
- 1991 – Surf Ultra detergent launched.
- 1992 – HUL recognised by Government of India as Star Trading House in Exports.
- 1993 – HUL's largest competitor, Tata Oil Mills Company (TOMCO), merges with the company with effect from April 1, 1993, the biggest such in Indian industry till that time. Merger ultimately accomplished in December 1994; Launch of Vim bar; Kissan acquired from the UB Group.
- 1994 – HUL forms Unilever Nepal Limited, HUL and US–based Kimberley–Clark Corporation form 50:50 joint venture – Kimberley–Clark Lever Ltd. – to market Huggies diapers and Kotex feminine care products. Factory set up at Pune in 1995; HUL acquires Kwality and Milkfood 100% brandnames and distribution assets. HUL introduces Wall's.
- 1995 – HUL and Indian cosmetics major, Lakme Ltd., form 50:50 joint venture – Lakme Lever Ltd.; HUL enters branded staples business with salt; HUL recognised as Super Star Trading House.
- 1996 – Mr. K. B. Dadiseth takes over as Chairman from Mr. S. M. Datta; Merger of Group company, Brooke Bond Lipton India Limited, with HUL, with effect from January 1; HUL introduces branded atta; Surf Excel launched.
- 1997 – Unilever sets up International Research Laboratory in Bangalore; new Regional Innovation Centres also come up.
- 1998 – Group company, Pond's India Ltd., merges with HUL with effect from January 1, 1998. HUL acquires Lakme brand, factories and Lakme Ltd.'s 50% equity in Lakme Lever Ltd.
- 2000 – Mr. M. S. Banga takes over as Chairman from Mr. K. B. Dadiseth, who joins the Unilever Board; HUL acquires 74% stake in Modern Food Industries Ltd., the first public sector company to be disinvested by the Government of India.
- 2002 – HUL enters Ayurvedic health & beauty centre category with the Ayush range and Ayush Therapy Centres.
- 2003 – Launch of Hindustan Lever Network; acquisition of the Amalgam Group
- 2005 – Launch of 'Pureit' water purifiers
- 2006 – Brookefields food operations moved to Mumbai
- 2007 – Company name formally changed to Hindustan Unilever Limited after receiving the approval of share holders during the 74th AGM on 18 May 2007 Sales of Brooke Bond and Surf Excel each cross the Rs 1,000 crore mark
- 2008 – HUL completes 75 years on 17th October 2008
- 2009 – HUL decided to license 'Lakme' and 'Lever Ayush', brands to its subsidiary, Lakme Lever Private Limited, for the Beauty and Wellness services business
- 2010 – The company launched Pureit Marvella against Aquaguard for domination in the fast–growing water purifier market in the premium category
- HUL’s corporate campus in Andheri, Mumbai, received certification of LEED India Gold in ‘New Construction’ category, by Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), Hyderabad, under license from the USGBC (United States Green Building Council).
- HUL and Star Bazaar, of Trent Hypermarket Limited, the retail arm of Tata Group, launched a unique consumer initiative titled ‘India’s Favorites’ to promote the cause of education of underprivileged children.
- The shareholders of the company on July 28, 2011, approved the scheme of arrangement for transfer of certain assets, liabilities and properties of FMCG Exports Business Division of Hindustan Unilever Limited to Unilever India Exports Limited.
- HUL and Bharti Retail’s ‘easyday Market’ and ‘easyday’ stores, launched a joint initiative to promote plastic recycling among consumers in NCR.
- In March, 2012 HUL’s state of the art Learning Centre was inaugurated at the Hindustan Unilever campus at Andheri, Mumbai.
- In April, 2012, the Customer Insight & Innovation Centre (CiiC) was inaugurated at the Hindustan Unilever campus at Andheri, Mumbai
- HUL completes 80 years of corporate existence in India on October 17th, 2013.
- Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) has emerged as the No. 1 Employer of Choice across all sectors for the 2014 graduating batch of B–School students
- Awarded top Indian company in the 'FMCG' sector for the third consecutive year at Dun & Bradstreet–Rolta Corporate Awards, 2009
- HUL ranked fourth in the ‘Top Companies for Leaders, 2009' (Asia Pacific region) and 10th place in the global rankings in a survey carried out by Hewitt Associates
- Awarded Customer and Brand Loyalty Award by Business India & Business Standard in 2009
- Awarded for Best Corporate Social Responsibility Practice at the Social & Corporate Governance Awards 08–09 by BSE, Nasscom Foundation and Times Foundation
- Awarded in the Category 'FMCG Manufacturing Supply Chain Excellence' at the Third Express, Logistics & Supply Chain Awards by APL Logistics, Indiatimes, Mindscape, Business India Group in 2009
- The company’s Orai unit received the Gold Excellence award and the Khalilabad unit received the Silver Excellence award in the environment category by Greentech Foundation in 2009
- HUL's Goa factory won a Gold Trophy at the Greentech Awards in 2009 the manufacturing sector category for their outstanding work in Safety Management
- Project Shakti won the Silver Trophy at the EMPI–Indian Express Indian Innovation Awards, 2009
- Kwality Wall's Swirl's awarded 'The Franchisor of the year' for the Ice–cream parlour category by Franchise India in 2009
- HUL was felicitated for receiving the highest number of patents in the year 2009 at Annual Intellectual Property Awards 2010. The award was instituted by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIIP) and Intellectual Property India (IPI) in New Delhi.HUL brands have topped Brand Equity's ‘India’s Most Trusted Brands Survey’ rankings for 2010. Six HUL brands (Lux, Lifebuoy, Clinic Plus, Pond's, Fair & Lovely and Pepsodent) featured in the top 10 and eight in the top 20. All together there are 17 HUL brands among the ‘100 most trusted brands’ in the 2010 survey. Additionally, five HUL brands (Fair & Lovely, Lifebuoy, Lux, Pepsodent and Pond’s) featured in the list of ten Hall of Fame brands. This recognition was accorded to brands which consistently ranked high in the survey over the last 10 years since its inception. In 2009, three HUL brands featured in the top ten, and seven in the top twenty.
- Received CNBC AWAAZ Consumer Awards in six categories for 2010 – Green company of the year, Value for money brand of the year, Ad effectiveness award, Marketer of the year award across all categories, Most preferred personal care company in FMCG category (for the third consecutive year), Most Preferred home care company in FMCG category (for the third consecutive year).
- HUL received the Award for Excellence in HR in 2010 from Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). This is a rigorous fact–based assessment which is conducted by a team of external assessors. HUL has won this award for the third consecutive year.
- Five of HUL's leading brands – Lux, Dove, Pears, Clinic Plus and Sunsilk – won the Reader's Digest Trusted Brand 2008 Awards.
- Four HUL brands featured in the top 10 list of the Economic Times Brand Equity's Most Trusted Brands 2008 survey
- HUL was awarded the Bombay Chamber Civic Award 2007 in the category of Sustainable Environmental Initiatives.
- HUL was selected as the top Indian company in the FMCG sector for the Dun & Bradstreet – American Express Corporate Awards 2007.
- HUL is also one of the country's largest exporters; it has been recognised as a Golden Super Star Trading House by the Government of India.