Unilever Nigeria Plc is one of the major fast moving consumer goods companies in the country. The company is a subsidiary of Unilever Overseas Holding B.V. It is a publicly listed company with trading and manufacturing interest in the consumer goods market.
With manufacturing sites in Oregun (Lagos) and Agbara (Ogun), Unilever Nigeria is primarily involved in the manufacture and sales of foods, food ingredients as well as home and personal care products. The company’s head office is located on No 1 Billings Way, Oregun, Lagos.
In 2014, Unilever was one of the top 20 most valuable companies quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Unilever Nigeria Products: Full List & Details
The history of Unilever can be traced to 1923 when Robert Hesketh Leverhulme opened a trading post in Nigeria under the business name, Lever Brothers (West Africa) Ltd. The company was later renamed the West African Soap Company in 1924 and a year later, it opened a soap factory in Apapa.
WASC would later expand into the production of food products. The company changed its name to Lever Brothers Nigeria Ltd in 1955 and built a soap factory in Aba in 1958.
In 1960, Lever Brothers introduced Omo detergent into the market, the new product gained traction among buyers, prompting the firm to commission a factory to manufacture Omo detergents in 1964.
In 1972, Lever Brothers became a publicly listed company following the indigenization decree of that same year. Also, the company sold 60% of its shares to the Nigerian public making the company a Nigerian owned brand.
In 1982, the firm began producing edible products such as Royco, Blue Band and Tree Top in Agbara, Ogun State. The company would later acquire Lipton Nigeria in 1985 while merging with Chesebrough Products Industries, the makers of Vaseline in 1988.
The company also embarked on a backward integration scheme in order to source its raw materials locally. This business decision led the company to invest in crop production and oil palm milling. The company also invested in a tea plantation in Mambilla to provide raw materials for Lipton.
In 1995, Lever Brothers which was 40 percent owned by Unilever merged with Unilever Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of the Unilever U.K. The merger gave Unilever control of the newly merged entity. This was the first time since the indigenization decree was scrapped that a multinational will have majority equity in a quoted Nigerian company.
In 2001, the company changed its name to Unilever Nigeria Plc. Currently, Unilever makes and sells products under more than 400 brand names worldwide. In Nigeria, the company has three segments namely, the Food and Drink segment, Home and Personal Care segments.
The product segments include:
Food products: Blue Band Margarine, Lipton Yellow Label Tea, Royco bouillon cubes and Knorr bouillon cubes
Home care: OMO Multi-Active Detergent, Sunlight washing powder, and Sunlight Dishwashing liquid
Personal care products: Close-Up toothpaste, Pepsodent toothpaste, LUX beauty soap, Lifebuoy soap, Rexona, Pears Baby Products range, Vaseline lotion, and petroleum jelly.
In 2018, Unilever Nigeria Plc made the decision to sell its spreads business, the worst-performing unit, to Sigma Bidco as proposed by the Board of Directors in order to focus and consolidate on its faster-growing food and personal-care niches.
Unilever, Nigeria’s biggest players in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) did not disclose the stake in the deal and worth of the Spreads business it is planning to sell to SigmanBidco B.V., an investment company with a focus on consumer products and packaged foods based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
If the Unilever story seems interesting, you can become involved in the business by becoming a distributor.
Here are the requirements if you want to become a Unilever Distributor
Excellent understanding of the consumer goods market
Becoming a Unilever requires that you possess knowledge of how the market works. The consumer goods market is very dynamic and witnesses continuous changes in consumer behaviour. Having an understanding of how this works is an added advantage in your quest to becoming a distributor.
It is very important to have enough funds before you can buy Unilever products. Generally, the start-up capital needed falls within the range of N9,000,000 to N35,000,000.
If you can’t afford the initial capital, you can apply for debt financing, however, the loans should not exceed 50% of your working capital.
Excellent communication skills
There is a need to possess excellent communication skills. You need to be able to communicate effectively in English, a local language and Pidgin. This is very important because you will have to speak any of these languages to your customers.
Working as a distributor with Unilever requires high integrity on your part. It is extremely important to the company because you are an extension of Unilever to the customers. Therefore, it is necessary that you are trustworthy and are able to work within the guidelines of company policy. The inability of a distributor to maintain integrity can lead to sanctions.
Equipment and staffing
Apart from your financial and moral capacity, there are some additional requirements you need to meet. These include equipment necessary for the job as well as being able to hire your workforce. For instance, you will need a manager, salesmen and an accountant among others. Also, there is the need to have distribution trucks or vans which will be used in transporting products from your warehouse to your customers. The availability of these vehicles will make it easy for you to conduct your business. Also, it doesn’t matter your location in Nigeria, you can apply for distributorship rights once you meet these requirements.
Overall, qualifying as a Unilever distributor enables you to be part of a long-standing and successful brand which has been around for over 7 decades. Also, it enables you to partake in its tradition of excellence in the provision of high-quality consumer goods to households. You are also trained from time to time by the company.
Additionally, diligence and hard work in handling your business affairs as a distributor enable you to reach for the greatest height in your business.