The Body Shop to shut up to half of its UK stores


Woman walks pasts The Body Shop

The Body Shop is set to shut up to half of its 198 stores in the UK and cut the size of its head office, leading to hundreds of job losses.

Closures will begin immediately on Tuesday, the firm that is overseeing the restructuring of the beauty retailer said.

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

The cuts would “help re-energise” the brand, the administrators said.

The stores immediately affected include four in London, where rents and other overheads are highest. The chain’s remaining shops and the website will trade as normal as the restructuring proceeds.

“It is expected that at the conclusion of the restructuring, more than half of The Body Shop’s 198 UK stores will remain open,” said the administrator, FRP Advisory.

It is understood that The Body Shop’s global franchises in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the rest of Europe are not affected by closures.

The Body Shop stores closing on Tuesday are:

  • Ashford Town Centre, Kent
  • Bristol Queens Road, Bristol
  • Canary Wharf, London
  • Cheapside, London
  • Nuneaton, Warwickshire
  • Oxford Street-Bond Street, London
  • Surrey Quays, London

The UK arm of The Body Shop was put into administration last week, a couple of months after it was bought up by Aurelius, a German private equity firm.

Consumer expert Kate Hardcastle, who spent time with The Body Shop founder Dame Anita Roddick, said the closures were a stark reminder of the current “volatile” retail landscape.

“However, relevance is equally crucial. A brand must evolve with its audience. The challenge lies not just in upholding these values but in communicating them effectively to a generation that demands authenticity and action,” she said.

FRP said: “A reduced store footprint, will coincide with a renewed focus on the brand’s products, online sales channels and wholesale strategies.”

A closure notice in The Body Shop, Nuneaton
Image caption,A closure notice was put up in The Body Shop, Nuneaton

Staff headcount at the head office in London will be reduced by approximately 40%, as part of a “more nimble, financially viable model” following the earlier sale of loss-making businesses in mainland Europe and parts of Asia.

The Body Shop’s Ambassador Programme, which allows representatives to sell the firm’s products directly to customers, will also close, FRP said.

The retailer has already announced that its original direct selling network, The Body Shop at Home, which operated for 30 years, will close this month.

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

But the private equity firm said the chain’s performance over the festive period was “worse than [their] worst-case assumptions”, prompting the move to call in administrators.

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

Aurelius is The Body Shop’s main secured creditor – meaning it is first in line to receive payments from the company as it is restructured. As a result, it is also considered to be in pole position to take back control of the retailer.

Retail analyst Natalie Berg said the closure was a “reminder of the dangers of complacency”.

“The Body Shop was once a trailblazer, but they’ve settled into the status quo. Standing still is the most dangerous thing you can do in retail. You have to continuously evolve in order to stay relevant to customers. If you don’t, someone else certainly will,” she said.

The Body Shop was founded by the pioneering British businesswoman and activist Dame Anita Roddick and her husband in 1976, and quickly established itself as a ground breaking ethical, sustainable brand – rejecting animal testing on cosmetics, and promoting environmentally-friendly products and ethical sourcing practices.

However, since then it has faced increasing competition, in particular from High Street rival Lush which was co-founded by Mark Constantine who used to be a supplier to The Body Shop.

In 2006, Dame Anita and her husband sold The Body Shop to French beauty giant L’Oreal, which some of its original customer base viewed as a sell-out.

Later its adoption of aggressive sales tactics, including ferocious discounting, put people off paying full prices for its products.

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