THE Body Shop’s UK business has fallen into administration, putting more than 2,000 jobs and 200 stores at risk in a further blow to Britain’s shopping districts.
The retailer, owned by private equity firm Aurelius, appointed administrators at FRP Advisory on Tuesday (Feb 13). It said the move was the best way of securing the brand’s future.
The buyout firm, which also owns sportswear chain Footasylum and Lloyds Pharmacy, agreed to acquire The Body Shop from Brazilian cosmetics conglomerate Natura & Co late last year, in a deal that valued the retailer at £207 million (S$351.5 million). Natura had owned the brand since buying it from L’Oreal in 2017.
The Body Shop was founded in 1976 by animal rights activist Anita Roddick, beginning with a small store in Brighton, on England’s south coast. It became popular for selling cosmetics and hygiene products that were not tested on animals.
Britain’s malls, retail parks and main shopping streets have been hit by the decline of several major brands. Budget chain Wilko went into administration last August, risking 12,000 jobs, although some branches were subsequently bought by rival retailers. Paperchase, Cath Kidston and M&Co were among other brands that went into administration in the past 18 months.
“Cruelty-free cosmetics is not the niche it once was,” said Matthew Padian, a partner specialising in restructuring and insolvency at law firm Stevens & Bolton. “It seems possible that The Body Shop might just be another Wilko, namely a business with a strong history, which has failed to keep pace with the demands of the modern and arguably fickle consumer.”
The Body Shop has faced increasing competition from rivals better able to target younger consumers online. E-commerce in beauty nearly quadrupled between 2015 and 2022, to exceed 20 per cent of sales, according to McKinsey & Co. BLOOMBERG