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Amazon Executive to Head Unilever's Beauty Business Amid Digital Push -- Update

26/03/2019 12:23pm

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By Saabira Chaudhuri 

Unilever PLC has appointed an Amazon.com Inc. executive to run its beauty and personal-care business, tapping an industry veteran with expertise in a broad range of consumer products and e-commerce to lead its biggest division.

The owner of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry's ice cream said Tuesday that Sunny Jain, currently Amazon's head of consumables, would begin his new role in June. Mr. Jain replaces Alan Jope who was recently promoted to be Unilever's chief executive.

Unilever has steadily shifted its focus toward high-growth personal-care products and, more recently, beauty lines. Last year, the company's beauty and personal-care division generated 41% of group sales.

That expansion has been helped by a string of acquisitions of high-end skin-care brands, including lines that appeal to specific ethnic groups and feature natural ingredients. Last year, among other deals, Unilever invested in Italian face-cream maker Equilibra and bought U.S.-based deodorant business Schmidt's Naturals.

Unilever has also been working to soup-up its digital capabilities in manufacturing, distribution and marketing. It has set up digital hubs to create data-driven campaigns and has an in-house studio for digital marketing. Earlier this year, Unilever said e-commerce represented over 5% of its business and was growing strongly.

Mr. Jope said Mr. Jain's experience with consumer products and online retail made him well-suited to the role.

While at Amazon, Mr. Jain was responsible for health, personal care, beauty, grocery and baby products, among others. He joined the online giant in 2013 after 16 years at Procter & Gamble Company where he worked in new business creation, marketing, sales and information technology.

Amazon, which started out life as a seller of books, has become a consumer goods powerhouse, with analysts estimating the site offers more than 100 of its own brands.

Those include the AmazonBasics brand, which makes everything from suitcases to batteries, the Happy Belly brand of foods and the Mama Bear baby-products brand.

Recently, Amazon has asked consumer-goods companies to create brands exclusively for it, a move that would further increase its foothold in the industry. The Seattle-based company has also doubled down on beauty. The Wall Street Journal reported in March that the e-commerce giant plans to launch urban grocery stores that could offer beauty products alongside food.

Write to Saabira Chaudhuri at saabira.chaudhuri@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 26, 2019 08:08 ET (12:08 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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