May 22, 2024

The Body Shop is closing almost half of its UK stores

Image source, Andy Ryan/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

The Body Shop is set to close nearly half of its 198 UK stores and downsize its head office, resulting in hundreds of job losses.

The closures will begin immediately on Tuesday, according to the company overseeing the retailer's restructuring.

The Body Shop employs around 2,200 people in the UK, including 750 staff at its head office.

Officials said the cuts “will help revitalize” the brand.

The stores immediately affected include four in London, where rents and other overheads are highest. The others are closed on Tuesday in Nuneaton, Ashford and Bristol.

The chain's remaining stores and website will trade normally as the restructuring process continues.

The UK arm of The Body Shop was placed into administration last week, two months after it was acquired by German private equity firm Aurelius.

“The decline in store volume will coincide with a renewed focus on the brand’s products, online sales channels and wholesale strategies,” FRP Advisory, director of The Body Shop, said on Tuesday.

FRP said headcount at its London head office would be reduced by around 40%, as part of a “smarter and more financially viable model” following the early sale of loss-making businesses in mainland Europe and parts of Asia.

Aurelius bought The Body Shop for £207m at the end of last year from Brazilian beauty giant Natura.

This is the first major retail failure this year in the UK.

Aurelius is the Body Shop's primary secured creditor – meaning it is the first to receive payments from the company when it restructures. As a result, Aurelius is also in prime position to regain control of the retailer.

Founded by pioneering British businesswoman and activist Dame Anita Roddick and her husband in 1976, The Body Shop has quickly established itself as a leading ethical and sustainable brand – rejecting animal testing on cosmetics, promoting eco-friendly products and ethical sourcing practices. .

However, since then it has faced increasing competition, particularly from its main rival Lush which was co-founded by Mark Constantine who was a supplier to The Body Shop.

In 2006, Ms Anita and her husband sold The Body Shop to French beauty giant L'Oréal, which some of their original customers viewed as a sell-out.

Later, its adoption of aggressive sales tactics, including aggressive discounts, discouraged people from paying full prices for its products.