Our history

Unilever has been in business since the 1880s. Our unique heritage shapes the way we do business today.

unilever history

Helping people get more out of life

Unilever‘s corporate vision – helping people to look good, feel good and get more out of life – shows how clearly the business understands 21st century-consumers and their lives. But the spirit of this mission forms a thread that runs throughout our history.

In the 1890s, William Hesketh Lever, founder of Lever Bros, wrote down his ideas for Sunlight Soap – his revolutionary new product that helped popularise cleanliness and hygiene in Victorian England.

It was ‘to make cleanliness commonplace; to lessen work for women; to foster health and contribute to personal attractiveness, that life may be more enjoyable and rewarding for the people who use our products’.

This was long before the phrase ‘Corporate Mission’ had been invented, but these ideas have stayed at the heart of our business. Even if their language – and the notion of only women doing housework – has become outdated.

Follow our timeline to find out more about our history that now crosses three centuries.

Back to top