Unilever is one of the largest tea sellers in the world, with brands such as Lipton, PG Tips, Bushells and Brooke Bond. Mr Jope told investors the company’s “disproportionate” exposure to the black tea market had seen the segment suffer over the past decade, with shoppers now preferring herbal, green and other non-black tea options.
“The black tea drinkers are getting older and consuming less and will start to fall over and that is actually the fundamental problem,” he said.
T2’s specialty lies in its unique upmarket blends – such as Lamington, Honey Chai, Peppermint and Watermelon Sorbet brews – and its selection of fancy teapots, mugs, and steepers. At the time of the 2013 acquisition, Unilever mooted plans to expand the Australian success story by opening T2 stores around the world.
Ms Shearer, who is no longer directly involved with T2 but still consults for the business, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald on Friday she had not yet been notified of any sale intentions.
Unilever denied rumours last year it was looking to sell its tea division, with reports at the time suggesting investment bank UBS was sizing up buyers for the brand.
Market sources told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald UBS has not been involved in any sale talks for T2.
Matthew Barry, a senior beverages analyst with Euromonitor International told the Age and Herald there’s a chance T2 could be saved from a potential sale, believing Unilever will instead look to divest its weaker brands.
“Unilever will want to shift its developed world portfolio in a premium and herbal direction at the same time as not jeopardizing its place in the booming tea markets of many developing countries,” he said.
“This announcement means that they will try to unload some of their weaker brands. This means brands primarily focused on black tea in developed countries.”
“I do not think that T2 would be the priority to divest. It is the sort of premium tea that Unilever wants to be in and my sense is that they would like to hold onto it.”