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
Ayurvedic Personal & Health Care