Hindustan Lever Limited is the undisputed market leader in FMCG. Here is a brief company profile and history of HLL.

Hindustan Lever Ltd

Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL) is India's largest Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) company. HLL's brands like Lifebuoy, Lux, Surf Excel, Rin, Wheel, Fair & Lovely, Pond's, Sunsilk, Clinic, Pepsodent, Close-up, Lakme, Brooke Bond, Kissan, Knorr-Annapurna, Kwality Wall's are household names across the country and span a host of categories, such as soaps, detergents, personal products, tea, coffee, branded staples, ice cream and culinary products. These products are manufactured over 40 factories across India and the associated operations involve over 2,000 suppliers and associates. Hindustan Lever Limited's distribution network comprises about 4,000 redistribution stockists, covering 6.3 million retail outlets reaching the entire urban population, and about 250 million rural consumers. HLL is also one of India's largest exporters. It has been recognised as a Golden Super Star Trading House by the Government of India. Presently, HLL has over 16,000 employees including over 1,200 managers. Its mission is to "add vitality to life." The Anglo-Dutch company Unilever owns a majority stake in Hindustan Lever Limited.

In the late 19th and early 20th century Unilever used to export its products to India. This process began in 1888 with the export of Sunlight soap, which was followed by Lifebuoy in 1895 and other famous brands like Pears, Lux and Vim soon after. In 1931, Unilever set up its first Indian subsidiary, Hindustan Vanaspati Manufacturing Company, followed by Lever Brothers India Limited (1933) and United Traders Limited (1935). The three companies were merged in November 1956 and the new entity that came into existence after merger was called as Hindustan Lever Limited. HLL offered 10% of its equity to the Indian public, and it was the first among the foreign subsidiaries to do so. Currently, Unilever holds 51.55% equity in the company while the rest of the shareholding is distributed among about 380,000 individual shareholders and financial institutions.

Brooke Bond entered Indian market in 1900 and in 1903 it launched Red Label tea in the country. In 1912, Brooke Bond & Co. India Limited was formed. Unilever acquired Brooke Bond through an international acquisition. Similarly, Lipton's link with India date back to 1898. Unilever acquired Lipton in 1972 and in 1977 Lipton Tea (India) Limited was incorporated. Pond's (India) had been in Indian market since 1947. It joined the Unilever ranks through an international acquisition of Chesebrough Pond's USA in 1986.

The liberalization of Indian economy in 1991 and subsequent removal of the regulatory framework allowed HLL to explore every single product and opportunity segment, without any constraints on production capacity. The 1990s witnessed a string of crucial mergers, acquisitions and alliances. In 1992, the erstwhile Brooke Bond acquired Kothari General Foods, with significant interests in Instant Coffee. In 1993, it acquired the Kissan business from the UB Group and the Dollops Ice-cream business from Cadbury India. In one of the most talked about events of India's corporate history, the erstwhile Tata Oil Mills Company (TOMCO) merged with HLL, effective from April 1, 1993. In July 1993, Brooke Bond India and Lipton India merged to form Brooke Bond Lipton India Limited (BBLIL). Brooke Bond Lipton India Limited launched Wall's range of Frozen Desserts in 1994 and by the end of the year, HLL entered into a strategic alliance with the Kwality Icecream Group families. BBLIL merged with HLL, with effect from January 1, 1996. HLL has also set up a subsidiary in Nepal, Nepal Lever Limited (NLL). The NLL factory manufactures HLL's products like Soaps, Detergents and Personal Products both for the domestic market and exports to India. In January 2000, as part of its divestment strategy, the government decided to award 74 per cent equity in Modern Foods to HLL. In 2002, HLL acquired the government's remaining stake in Modern Foods. In February 2007, the company has been renamed to "Hindustan Unilever Limited" to strike the optimum balance between maintaining the heritage of the Company and the future benefits and synergies of global alignment with the corporate name of "Unilever".

Note: The above information was last updated on 21-07-2007