Vincent Boland: Chronically underperforming Unilever long past its salad days

The venerable British consumer goods giant is now in the crosshairs of a disaffected fund manager who accuses the company of having lost the plot

Unilever: the consumer goods behemoth has developed a tendency to dither and under-deliver. Picture: Getty

It was only one paragraph in a 13-page letter to investors, but it hit its target like a laser-guided missile. When Terry Smith, a British fund manager, wrote to his clients earlier this month giving them an update on their investments, he singled out a venerable British company for special mention, and not in a nice way.

The company is Unilever, the consumer goods group that makes Dove soap, Magnum ice cream, Marmite spread, Hellmann’s ...