Consumer goods giant Unilever has today appointed Hein Schumacher to replace Alan Jope as chief executive from July 1 in a move that was welcomed by board member and activist shareholder Nelson Peltz.

Schumacher, 51, joined Unilever in October last year as non-executive director and is currently the chief of Dutch dairy business FrieslandCampina.

The London-based company in September said that CEO Jope planned to retire at the end of 2023.

Schumacher, who was formerly at Royal Ahold, also worked for HJ Heinz for a decade across the US, Europe and Asia.

Billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz, who heads investor Trian Partners, said he strongly supports Hein "as our new CEO and look(s) forward to working closely with him to drive significant sustainable stakeholder value."

Peltz become a Unilever board member in July after it was revealed early last year that he had built a stake in the company.

"I first met Hein when I served as a director at the HJ Heinz Company from 2006 to 2013 and was impressed by his leadership skills and business acumen," Peltz said.

Peltz, through his Trian Fund, holds a nearly 1.5% stake in Unilever, making him the fourth largest shareholder, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

Analysts at Jefferies and RBC Capital welcomed Unilever's appointment of an external CEO, saying investors will support the move.

"We think Unilever needs a cultural and organisational shake up," RBC analyst James Edwardes Jones wrote in a note.

Analysts at Jefferies said Schumacher brings "frontline experience."