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Unilever is cutting jobs and splitting off ice cream unit

Ben & Jerry's ice cream
Ben & Jerry's ice cream

Marmite and Dove soap-owner Unilever is to cut about 7,500 jobs worldwide, as part of an extensive three-year cost-saving plan.

The group also said it would split off its ice cream business which includes the Wall's, Ben & Jerry's and Magnum brands.

The food and household goods giant said the spin-off will start immediately and should be completed by the end of 2025.

Unilever said the shake-up would help it to "do fewer things better".

The job cuts, which Unilever said would mostly affect office staff, represent more than 5% of its 128,000 global workforce and is aimed at saving around €800m (£684m) over the next three years.

Unilever employs 6,000 staff in the UK including producing ice cream in north-east Gloucestershire, Marmite and Bovril in Burton-on-Trent and Pot Noodles in Newport.

The ice cream division, whose other brands include Viennetta, Carte d'Or, Cornetto and Breyers, achieved global sales of €7.9m (£6.75m) last year.

However, Unilever said the business had less in common with its other consumer product lines because it needed a frozen goods supply chain and was more seasonal.

"The separation of ice cream and the delivery of the productivity programme will help create a simpler, more focused, and higher performing Unilever," said the company's chairman Ian Meakins.

"It will also create a world-leading ice cream business, with strong growth prospects and an exciting future as a standalone business."

Shares in Unilever rose 5% following the announcement.

Matt Britzman at Hargreaves Lansdown said the move was "not a huge shock" as the ice cream unit had been underperforming.

The unit is most likely to be shed in a demerger, which would mean current shareholders receiving shares in a newly listed entity. However the group said it was not ruling out other options, such as a direct sale of the business.

"It doesn't sound like there's a buyer lined up so it looks like a demerger will be the choice," said Mr Britzman. "Investors can then decide whether they want to keep the new Ice Cream business or sell into the market."