April 23, 2024

Next weighs the move for the beauty and tailoring chain The Body Shop | Business News

The FTSE-100 fashion retailer and prolific acquirer of struggling high street chains has approached administrators about a deal for some of The Body Shop's assets, Sky News has learned.

by Mark Kleinman, City Editor @markkleinmansky

Saturday, February 24, 2024 at 2:11 PM, United Kingdom

Next contacted The Body Shop officials about a potential deal to buy parts of the stricken cosmetics chain.

Sky News has learned that executives from the UK fashion retail giant have contacted consultancy FRP to express an interest in acquiring the assets as part of any sale it decides to launch.

However, there were doubts this weekend that FRP, which was appointed to deal with the insolvency Body Shop In the UK earlier this month, it will opt to hold a traditional auction, with one source indicating that communication between FRP and Next has already been halted.

Read more: The Body Shop UK in administration – what went wrong?

Next is understood to have been keeping an eye on The Body Shop for some time, but people close to the FTSE-100 company have confirmed it has expressed an interest in putting together a deal.

The retailer, run by Lord Wolfson, has become one of the most prolific buyers of distressed retail businesses in Britain in recent years.

Among the brands it has acquired are Fat Face, Joules and online furniture retailer Made.com.

It also acquired Cath Kidston and Jojo Maman Baby, a maternity wear retailer, while striking partnerships with Victoria's Secret and Gap.

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One impediment to any deal with The Body Shop may lie in the fact that its brand and intellectual property (IP) assets are not part of the management process.

Aurelius, which has only owned The Body Shop since January 1, is understood to be financing the rest of the business, and as part of that has secured key assets including shares and intellectual property.

FRP is expected to decide whether to launch an auction within weeks, with the restructured business likely to be sold in its new form to Aurelius.

If Next goes on to buy the chain, it is unlikely to retain many, if any, of The Body Shop's British stores.

FRP announced this week Nearly half of its 198 UK stores are closingWith seven closing immediately.

“Following the early sale of loss-making businesses across most of continental Europe and parts of Asia, and to support the streamlined business, The Body Shop will also restructure roles at its head office,” officials said on Tuesday.

Hundreds of jobs will be lost due to store closures and a downsizing of its head office which will leave nearly 400 people working there.

“This rapid action will help revitalize The Body Shop’s iconic brand and provide it with the best platform to achieve its ambition of being a modern, dynamic beauty brand able to return to profitability and competitiveness in the long term,” FRP added. .

Ms. Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, 2003. Photo: Reuters

Sky News revealed That Aurelius is preparing to appoint directors has sparked a fierce debate about why the brand founded by the late Dame Anita Ruddick and her husband Gordon nearly 50 years ago has faltered.

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“Mismanagement for years”

Aurelius bought the company from Natura, a Brazilian company, late last year and quickly discovered that it did not have enough working capital and that its trading was worse than expected.

One retail executive noted that there are serious questions for Natura to answer, saying: “This company has not failed in the last six weeks, it has been underinvested and mismanaged for years.”

The Body Shop's business across most of Europe and parts of Asia has already been offloaded to a family office after Aurelius took over the company in a deal it said was valued at £207m.

At the time of the deal, The Body Shop employed about 10,000 people and operated nearly 3,000 stores in 70 countries.

Although it has struggled for profitable growth for years, it has retained a prominent presence on Britain's high streets.

The Ruddix family was a prominent advocate for environmental issues, a position that helped it gain an edge over rival retailers during the 1980s and 1990s.

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Its opposition to testing cosmetics on animals was also unusual in the decades immediately following its founding.

However, its differentiation has been diminished in recent years by the emergence of competitors who have also put sustainability at the heart of their business while more effectively targeting younger consumers.

Lady Anita died in 2007.

Natura reportedly paid more than $1 billion to buy The Body Shop in 2017.

It was owned by L'Oreal, the cosmetics giant, before being sold to Natura.

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After that, FRP and Aurelius declined to comment.