Reviving Hindustan Lever Limited

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR206
Case Length : 19 Pages
Pages Period : 1998-2006
Organization : HLL
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : India
Industry : FMCG

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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About HLL

In HLL's presence in India dates back to the late 1800s, when Sunlight soap manufactured by the Lever Brothers (UK) was imported to India in 1888. In 1895, Lifebuoy soap was introduced in the Indian market. This was followed by the launch of other popular global brands like Pears in 1902, Lux in 1905 and Vim in 1913.

The Lever Brothers launched several other products like Vinolia soap, Rinso soap powder and Gibbs dental preparation. Unilever was formed on January 01, 1930, with the merger of Lever Brothers and Margarine Unie.5 In 1931, Unilever established the Hindustan Vanaspati Manufacturing Company, its first Indian subsidiary. Unilever then established Lever Brothers India Limited in 1933, followed by United Traders Limited in 1935. When Lever Brothers started importing into India in 1888, it appointed agents in the cities of Calcutta, Mumbai, Chennai and Karachi to distribute its products. In 1941, with the growing success of the Lever brands, the company took over these agencies and acquired its own sales force.

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By 1942, Unilever began to train Indians to handle junior and middle management levels, instead of bringing in Europeans. By 1955, 65% of the company's managers were Indians. In the year 1956, Unilever merged Hindustan Vanaspati Manufacturing Company, Lever Brothers India Limited and United Traders Limited to form HLL.

HLL offered 10% of its equity to the Indian public, becoming one of the first foreign subsidiaries in India to do so. In 1958, HLL established a research unit at its Mumbai factory. One of the most popular HLL brands, Surf, was launched in 1959. In 1961, Prakash Tandon became the first Indian Chairman of the company. At this time, 191 out of the total of 205 managers in HLL were Indians. The 1960s saw the launch of several blockbuster products from the HLL stable. Some launches were Anik Ghee and Sunsilk shampoo in 1964, Signal toothpaste in 1965, Taj Mahal tea in 1966, and Rin bar soap and Bru coffee in 1969. In the 1960s and the 1970s, HLL also diversified into areas like fine chemicals, animal feeds, baby foods, industrial chemicals and dairy foods...

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5] Margarine Unie (English: Margarine Union Limited) was a Dutch company that was formed in the 1920s through the merger of several margarine (butter substitutes) companies such as Centra, Schicht and companies of Antonius Johannes Jurgens and Samuel van der Bergh. In 1930, it merged with Lever Brothers to form Unilever.


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