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Lever, William Hesketh, 1st Viscount Leverhulme of the Western Isles

Lever, William Hesketh, 1st Viscount Leverhulme of the Western Isles (1851–1925). Lever was born in Bolton (Lancs.). A congregationalist, he believed in self-help and free trade. He began work as a grocer. He later established a soap factory and expanded by purchasing firms in the same trade. His marketing strategies included the use of brand names, such as Sunlight, which was packaged and promoted by skilful advertising. In 1890 he founded Port Sunlight, situated on the Cheshire side of the Mersey, to provide well-designed works, housing, and facilities for his employees. His company acquired plantations for supplying raw materials in west Africa, the Belgian Congo, and the Solomon Islands. Efforts to form a soap monopoly were thwarted. In the 20th cent. the firm diversified to produce margarine, broadening its range by taking over Wall's, producers of ice cream and other foods, and establishing Macfisheries to sell the catch of the Western Isles of Scotland. In 1929, after his death, the company merged with the Dutch firm Jurgens to form Unilever.

Ian John Ernest Keil

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