Unilever's Indian unit names Rohit Jawa as MD, CEO

A pedestrian walks past the Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) headquarters in Mumbai

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian consumer goods conglomerate Hindustan Unilever Ltd named Rohit Jawa as its managing director and chief executive officer on Friday, succeeding Sanjiv Mehta, who is retiring after spending nearly 10 years at the company's helm.

Jawa, currently chief of transformation for Unilever, will take charge as MD and CEO from June 27, Unilever's Indian unit said in an exchange filing.

The 56-year-old, who joined Hindustan Unilever as a management trainee in 1988, takes over the maker of Dove soaps and Sunsilk shampoos at a time when consumer companies are facing inflationary challenges that have hurt their margins.

Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies - particularly those that make personal care products - have struggled to pull in sales from cash-strapped rural consumers, worst affected by the COVID pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war-led inflation.

Growth in India's FMCG industry slowed in the quarter ended December 2022 sequentially as rural shoppers spent less on items such as washing powder and shampoo, according to market intelligence firm NielsenIQ.

Last year, Unilever had said the United States, India and China were three of its key growth markets, underlining plans to grow in India amid rising use of the internet in the country and the economy's expansion.

HUL recently hiked royalty and central services fees it pays its majority owner Unilever to 3.45% of its turnover over three years from 2.65% earlier.

(Reporting by Nandan Mandayam in Bengaluru; Editing by Janane Venkatraman)