Unilever chief executive Alan Jope plans to retire at the end of 2023, the maker of Dove soap and Knorr stock cubes said today, roughly two months after activist investor Nelson Peltz joined the board.

The British consumer goods maker said its board would start a formal search for his successor, considering both internal and external candidates.

Unilever has had a rocky start to the year under Jope, who in January mounted three bids for the consumer health arm of GlaxoSmithKline - one for £50 billion.

The move was met with disapproval from shareholders, some of whom also criticised Unilever for prioritising sustainability over core growth.

The company in January also announced it would cut about 1,500 management jobs and reshape its business to focus on five main product areas, days after it was revealed that Peltz, via his Trian Partners vehicle, had built a stake in Unilever.

"Growth remains our top priority, and in the quarters ahead I will remain fully focused on disciplined execution of our strategy," said Jope, who has been in his role for five years.