Unilever to sell part of its Port Sunlight research site for housing

Hundreds of scientists and support staff work in the research facility which is also to be upgraded in a new investment. Tony McDonough reports

Unilever’s research and development facility in Port Sunlight. Picture by Tony McDonough


Consumer products giant Unilever is preparing to sell off part of the site that houses its world-renowned research facility, to residential developers.

Hundreds of scientists and support staff work in the facility in Bromborough Road, which is separate from the main Unilever factory nearby. Unilever is also planning to revamp another part of the site to create an upgraded laboratory, consumer centre, collaboration space and restaurant facilities.

Port Sunlight is the centre for the company’s home care and beauty and personal care R&D, developing hair, laundry, deodorants and household care. Brands such as Dove, Sunsilk, Domestos and TRESemmé have all benefited from research done at the facility.

In a statement to LBN, the company said: “We shared details with our employees in February of a planned investment in one of our existing buildings on our Port Sunlight Research & Development site to create an upgraded laboratory, consumer centre, collaboration space and restaurant facilities, in one of our existing buildings on site.

“The intention is to also vacate buildings and sell part of the site which is adjacent to Quarry Road East and part of St Andrew’s Road. Our site was built more than 50 years ago and the way we do R&D has changed significantly during this time.

“Going forward, all our employees will be accommodated in the modern, leading-edge facilities we’ve recently invested in, including our Advanced Manufacturing Centre, the world-class Materials Innovation Factory at the University of Liverpool and what will be our new, upgraded laboratory and workspace.”

In January, LBN revealed that Unilever was cutting 225 jobs from its 1,800-strong workforce at Port Sunlight, with roles in IT, research and development and factory production being made redundant.

The factory was opened by industrialist William Hesketh Lever in 1886 to manufacture soap. By 1888 he had started work on a village surrounding the site to house its workers. He called this part of his business model “prosperity-sharing”.

He built homes, communal spaces and even a theatre and to this day Port Sunlight remains one of the most picturesque parts of Merseyside, attracting 300,000 tourists every year.

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