January 31, 2019 / 5:32 PM / 5 months ago

Unilever preps for no-sweat Brexit with Magnum ice creams, deodorants

LONDON (Reuters) - Unilever is stockpiling ice creams in Britain and deodorants in continental Europe to guard against potential supply disruptions in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

FILE PHOTO: The company logo for Unilever is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 17, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The Anglo-Dutch consumer giant, which is the world’s largest ice cream seller, makes British favorites like Magnum bars in Italy and Germany and is building up a few weeks of extra inventory in Britain in case of any border delays.

Likewise, several of its European deodorants, including Axe, Dove and Rexona are made in Britain.

“A few weeks of extra inventory is one of the important steps we are taking to make sure that we minimize any disruption to our customers and consumers,” Alan Jope, Unilever’s new chief executive, told reporters on Thursday.

He said “weeks of inventory, not months and not days” was the right amount for consumer packaged goods.

“One of the lessons we learn over and over again is when you do build inventory, it very often ends up being not exactly the right mix of products.”

With Britain at risk of leaving the European Union without a deal, Unilever is the latest consumer and retail firm to take such measures to keep imports and exports smooth.

Unilever makes other British staples, such as Marmite spread, in Britain.

In addition to finished goods, Unilever is also increasing stocks of raw materials such as aluminum cans and cardboard.

Such logistical costs are among those the Anglo-Dutch company has incurred this year to prepare for Brexit.

The others are artwork changes to labels to prepare for different regulations and the hiring of customs experts.

“In very round numbers these are roughly equal and not material to total Unilever at the moment,” Jope said.

Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Alexander Smith

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