The tsunami of nostalgia will do little to console the thousands of staff who face losing their jobs as the retailer formally appointed FRP Advisory as administrators, which it said would “accelerate restructuring of UK business”.
The administrators say the move gives the retailer “the stability, flexibility and security to find the best means of securing the future of The Body Shop and revitalising this iconic British brand”. They are considering “all options to find a way forward for the business”.
FRP, which also handled the administrations of companies such as Debenhams, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Peacocks, and Laura Ashley, said: “The Body Shop remains guided by its ambition to be a modern, dynamic beauty brand, relevant to customers and able to compete for the long term. Creating a more nimble and financially stable UK business is an important step in achieving this.”
“The Body Shop has faced an extended period of financial challenges under past owners, coinciding with a difficult trading environment for the wider retail sector,” it said.
The move, which potentially puts up to 2,000 jobs at risk, will see the stores and online site remain open and continuing to trade. Employees were told they will discover their fate “in due course”.
FRP are expected to slash costs and many of its 200 shops are facing closure unless landlords agree to reduce rents. Experts said they don’t believe the brand name will vanish from high streets. The retailer’s UK business has more than 200 shops and franchises across the country.
The move comes after owners Aurelius concluded the company had insufficient funds after trading poorly over the key Christmas trading period and January. Aurelius, which also owns sportswear chain Footasylum and Lloyds Pharmacy, bought the brand for £207m in November, making it The Body Shop’s third owner since it was sold by founder Dame Anita Roddick in 2006.
It became a trailblazing ethical retailer including campaigning against animal testing in cosmetics. It has since suffered from market changes during and after the pandemic as well as increasingly stiff competition from rivals who caught up with it in selling brands to more eco-conscious shoppers, including Aesop, the Australian retailer famous for its vegan products, which was bought by cosmetics group L’Oréal in a $2.5bn deal earlier this year.