“Ensuring the supply chain is at the heart of the business”

Since announcing Unilever’s bold sustainability targets for halving its environmental impact by 2020 and doubling its revenue, the company’s business leaders have been completely transparent about the motivations behind their daring decisions. One crucial factor in achieving their goals will be the global supply chain, and the man in charge of facilitating that in Europe is Neil Humphrey, SVP Supply Chain Europe and Chairman of the Unilever Supply Chain Company. His task for the coming months is to implement new (sustainability) strategies, new business objectives and to reintegrate the supply chain back into the heart of Unilever´s business.

Interview conducted by Martijn Lofvers en Edwin Tuyn, written by Helen Armstrong

The Unilever Supply Chain Company (USCC) was established six years ago to increase Unilever’s focus on its end-to-end supply chain. Neil Humphrey took over the role of chairman at the beginning of 2011. By that time, he had already been with the Anglo-Dutch multi-national for 25 years, 21 of which he had spent in the supply chain and the other 4 years responsible for sales in the Netherlands. His current title is two-fold: Unilever Supply Chain Company Chairman and SVP Supply Chain Europe. What this boils down to is overall leadership of planning, manufacturing, logistics and service for Unilever in Europe.

Humphrey currently works from Supply Chain Europe’s (ESC) head office in Schaffhausen, Switzerland travelling regularly to Rotterdam for team meetings of Unilever’s European Board as well as to many of the circa 60 factory and 10 office locations within Supply Chain Europe.  Supply Chain Movement’s editor-in-chief and publisher, Martijn Lofvers, asks him what his plans are and how he is getting on in his new role.

What is top of Supply Chain Europe’s agenda right now?

“Creating a new strategy, extending the scope of our supply chain and integrating it back into the heart of the business. That´s the number one challenge that I have at the moment.

There have been a lot of changes in Unilever over the past few years and the same applies to the Unilever Supply Chain Company. Since I took on the role, Unilever has communicated some very bold statements about our corporate and supply chain targets.  We now face the challenge of delivering them. We have made a strong start and it´s now my job to keep everyone focussed on our plan and ensure that we have a great team of people to drive us forward.

In order to do this, I need to integrate what we are doing in the supply chain with the rest of the business. We need to bring in marketing to support us on portfolio complexity, bring in sales to support us in improving our Customer Service processes for example, and we need to continue to work closely with our customers and suppliers on issues like waste and sustainable sourcing.”

  • Martijn Lofvers is Owner, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of Supply Chain Movement
  • Edwin Tuyn is Founder & Managing Partner of Inspired-Search

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