Was Unilever right to keep shtum?

Tomorrow's Business

Last Friday, Unilever was forced into a u-turn. A complete reverse ferret. Ditching plans to move its HQ to Holland was massive news; a victory for the City and much else besides.

Hacks complained that no senior management would take calls on the matter, however, and I can see their point.

At a time when Unilever desperately needed to look like a company in control, it instead looked like a business in hiding.

I can see why, though. The first question any hack would have asked of any executive would have been “are you going to resign?”.

The executive doesn’t want to answer “yes”, but probably can’t say “no” with certainty.

Unilever has more than one constituency. In the UK, Unilever staying put looks like a victory. In Holland, it certainly does not.

So on one hand, this was a fine opportunity for Unilever bosses to say, in the simplest language possible, that, yes, they had made mistakes, but learnt from them.

On the other, you sort of see why they said nothing.



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