Unilever Plc plans to cut 15 per cent of its senior managerial jobs to speed decision-making after activist investor Nelson Peltz built a stake in the consumer-goods giant.

Unilever said Tuesday it will cut 1,500 positions, as it also reduces junior-management staff by five per cent. The company is making ice cream an independent unit as it reorganizes its businesses into five groups.

The shares traded 0.5 per cent lower at 9:30 a.m. in London. Bloomberg earlier reported the company planned to reduce staff.

Chief Executive Officer Alan Jope is at a crucial juncture three years into his job. He has come under increasing pressure to chart a new course as the company’s share price lagged rivals. 

Unilever’s decision to separate its Foods and Refreshments business into two separate entities will bring more transparency to the performance of its ice-cream operations, which includes brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Klondike and Magnum and has been speculated by some analysts as a potential disposal target.

The departure of Sunny Jain, a former Amazon.com Inc. executive who replaced Alan Jope as president of Unilever’s beauty and personal arm in 2019, comes after the business delivered three per cent sales growth in the first nine months of 2021, the slowest pace of Unilever’s three major divisions. That unit is being broken up into two under the new organization.

Unilever last week abandoned its pursuit of GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s consumer healthcare business after the drugmaker rejected its overtures and investors disparaged the offer. Fund manager Terry Smith called the bid a “near-death experience.” Only days earlier, he had urged Unilever to focus more on fixing its own business than seeking to promote the sustainability ethos of brands such as Hellmann’s mayonnaise. 

The company employs about 150,000 people globally.