About half of The Body Shop’s 198 stores expected to close

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The Body Shop will close just under half of its 198 UK stores, putting hundreds of jobs at risk, the ethical beauty retailer’s administrators said on Tuesday.

Seven stores will close immediately, with more sites to be targeted in the coming weeks. Insolvency practitioners will reduce the headcount at its headquarters in London by 40 per cent to 400 full-time staff.

The news comes a week after private equity owners Aurelius appointed administrators at FRP Advisory to radically slim down the business.

The retailer, which gained a cult following in the 1980s with products such as its white musk range and body butters, employs more than 2,200 staff. 

“After years of unprofitability and following a full evaluation of The Body Shop’s UK business, the joint administrators have concluded that the current store portfolio mix is no longer viable,” FRP said on Tuesday.

By reducing its exposure to bricks and mortar stores, the business will focus on the brand’s products, online sales channels and wholesale strategies, they added.

PE firm Aurelius, which also owns sportswear chain Footasylum, bought the cosmetics brand from Brazilian company Natura & Co in November and took over its operations at the beginning of the year.

It also became a significant creditor after The Body Shop took out a series of loans from Aurelius, pledging some of the company’s most valuable assets in return, meaning Aurelius would have a claim over them in case of a collapse.

FRP said its turnaround efforts would make it a “more nimble, financially viable model”.

It added: “This swift action will help re-energise The Body Shop’s iconic brand and provide it with the best platform to achieve its ambition to be a modern, dynamic beauty brand that is able to return to profitability and compete for the long term.”