Unilever retreats in Brexit price bust-up with Tesco

That didn’t take very long did it?

Unilever and Tesco have settled their differences over prices, which resulted in Unilever products disappearing from the Tesco website (briefly).

Unilever must have read our story yesterday pointing out the reputational damage the accusation of greed could cause.

436px-unilever-svgQuite how things between the consumer goods giant and the UK’s biggest supermarket came to such a pretty pass has yet to be revealed. Presumably Unilever has backtracked on prices (it wanted to raise them by about ten per cent, blaming this on the post-Brexit vote fall in the pound).

Unilever has finally stuck its head above the parapet with the following: “Unilever is pleased to confirm that the supply situation with Tesco in the UK and Ireland has now been successfully resolved.

“We have been working together closely to reach this resolution and ensure our much-loved brands are once again fully available. For all those that missed us, thanks for all the love.”

Hmm. it’s still a major cock-up, whichever way you look at it. Resilient pricing is key to Unilever’s business in a slowing world economy and now its customers around the world know that it ain’t as tough as it would like to be. In the UK you can almost hear Aldi and Lidl flexing their muscles.

As for Tesco, CEO “Drastic Dave” Lewis, a former Unilever executive, has emerged as a rather unlikely people’s friend.

Will we see some Persil and Marmite jokes in the next instalment of BBH’s family vignettes for Tesco? Doubt it, although they’ll probably try.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.