ROTTERDAM/BURLINGTON, VT. September 20, 2016. Unilever has acquired home and personal care products B Corporation Seventh Generation for a reported US$600-US$700 million.
B Corporations are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab organization to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. More than 1,600 operate in 42 countries and over 120 industries.
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Entrepreneur and activist Jeffrey Hollender founded Seventh Generation in 1988 to produce household cleaning products without harmful chemicals. In 2010 Board members forced him to leave the company because they disagreed with his vision.
Last year Seventh Generation reported revenue of over US$200 million from a distribution network covering the 'natural' category in grocery, mass merchandise and e-commerce channels.
Commenting on the acquisition Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever North America said: "Adding Seventh Generation to Unilever's portfolio of purpose-driven brands like Ben & Jerry's and Dove demonstrates our continued commitment to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan."
Hollender named his company after the 'Great Law of the Haudenosaunee', the founding document of the Iroquois Confederacy – formed by five Native American tribes in the late 16th century in what is now New York State. The law declares: "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations."
Former Burt's Bees CEO and now Seventh Generation head John Replogle noted: "We're proud to join Unilever and its shared vision for purpose-led business on a global scale. Working together we are confident we can have a positive impact on the health of billions of people around the world, truly fulfilling our mission of nurturing the next seven generations while transforming global commerce."
This month, Seventh Generation was included in the Environment category on B Lab's "Best of the World" lists of companies that "go above and beyond in their pursuit of positive impact". The winners scored in the top 10 percent of the B Corp community in each of five categories: Overall, Community, Customers, Environment and Workers.
In addition to Seventh Generation, winners from more than 30 countries and 44 industries included Colorado beer maker New Belgium Brewing; Roshan, a community-centric Afghanistan telecom; Revolution Foods, a food company for children based in California; Sungevity, an American solar provider; and Gardner's Supply, a Vermont retailer.
B Lab says its goal is to certify companies in order "to not only be the best in the world, but the best for the world".