Article | Business History | January 2007

Acquisitions and Firm Growth: Creating Unilever's Ice Cream and Tea Business

by G. Jones and Peter Miskell


This article provides a longitudinal case study of the use of acquisitions by the Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever to build the world's largest ice cream and tea businesses. The study supports recent resource-based theory which argues that complementary rather than related acquisitions add value. It identifies the importance of local knowledge as a key complementary asset. The article also identifes reasons why Unilever was able to integrate acquisitions quite successfully, including clear strategic intent and the fact that employee resistance was reduced because most acquisitions were agreed. Unilever also took a long-term view because of its size, and relative inconcern for shareholder interests before the 1980s.

Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions; Integration; Value; Knowledge Use and Leverage; Business and Shareholder Relations; Interests; Business Ventures; Employees; Food and Beverage Industry;


Jones, G., and Peter Miskell. "Acquisitions and Firm Growth: Creating Unilever's Ice Cream and Tea Business." Business History 49, no. 1 (January 2007).