Today, Hindustan Unilever (HUL), our Indian listed subsidiary and the country’s largest fast-moving consumer goods company, merged with GSK Consumer Healthcare Limited in India.

With this transaction, HUL completed the acquisition of the Health Food Drinks portfolio of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in India, while Unilever acquired rights to the Health Food Drinks brands in around 20 other, predominantly Asian, markets.

Unilever’s purchase of GSK’s shareholding in its listed entity in Bangladesh, GlaxoSmithKline Bangladesh Limited, is expected to complete later this quarter, subject to local procedures.

This is a deal that will transform our Foods & Refreshment business in India as it gives us a strong foothold in the wider Nutrition and Health Foods Drinks (HFD) category, further building our position in the rapidly expanding health and wellness sector.

The GSK portfolio includes the hugely popular Horlicks and Boost brands – Horlicks commands a volume market share of around 50% in India. The brands offer a range of beverage-based nutrition products that support critical supplementation needs across life stages, with a portfolio addressing child and toddler nutrition, women’s wellbeing and adult wellness. They are backed by strong research and clinically backed claims.

This portfolio has a strong track record of growth, but the category remains under-penetrated.

Helping India address multiple challenges

India and South Asia face a triple burden of nutrition: malnutrition, obesity and high levels of micronutrient deficiency among rich and poor alike. In fact, nine out of ten children have diets that are deficient in micronutrients and four in ten are malnourished.

The newly-acquired brands are deeply in sync with our beliefs on purpose, particularly our aim to ‘nourish a billion lives’ and help to unleash the country’s potential with better nutrition.

They are also aligned with both the Sustainable Development Goals and the Indian government’s ‘POSHAN abhiyaan’ flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.

As Sanjiv Mehta, HUL’s Chairman and Managing Director, says: “This historic merger reinforces our commitment to India’s long-term growth story and allows HUL access to a fast-growing nutrition category, further bolstering our Foods & Refreshment Division.

“It is also an opportunity and a privilege to combine our respective strengths and work towards broadening our social impact to help our country address the challenges of malnutrition, obesity and micronutrient deficiency.”

Hanneke Faber, Global President Foods & Refreshment says: “We are delighted to be acquiring a portfolio with such leading market positions. It further strengthens our position in health and wellness in fast-growing markets offering beverages designed to support the nutritional needs of toddlers and children, supporting their growth and development; as well as products that support other nutritional needs such as adult wellness, protein and energy; and women’s bone health. Horlicks and Boost are a great addition to our purpose-driven brands that aim to help consumers to get more out of their lives.”

New markets, products and people

Following the merger, HUL will be partnering with GSK (via a consignment selling arrangement) to distribute brands of the GSK Consumer Healthcare family in India. This partnership, with world-class brands from GSK (like Eno, Crocin and Sensodyne) coupled with HUL’s distribution strength, will help build Hindustan Unilever’s go-to-market capabilities further.

As a consequence of the merger, HUL welcomes over 3,500 GSK employees into the Unilever family, and we will look to harness the capabilities and expertise developed in this business to ‘boost’ our overall growth.

Did You Know?

  • Horlicks has aided human endeavours since its creation, being a part of the polar expeditions and also the first transatlantic crossing by flight.
  • Since Horlicks was originally introduced to India in the early part of the 20th century, the products have been an everyday staple in South Asian households across generations.
  • The brand was positioned as the drink of choice of Maharajas and many aspirational Indian families took to drinking it.
  • Horlicks is made using natural ingredients with the goodness of wheat, barley and milk.
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