Global beauty giant The Body Shop is set to call in administrators as it teeters on the brink of failure

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The UK arm of iconic global beauty business The Body Shop will be put into administration this week, according to reports in the UK media.

The Times reported the company’s dire financial situation may lead to the closure of around 200 stores across the country and the loss of thousands of jobs.

Administrators will reportedly focus on reducing its costs, including spending on property and rents, as well as building up its online presence.

The impact on the Australian business, which has over 60 stores, is not yet known, but a spokesperson for the local business told “Media reports are just speculation and we are trading as usual”.

The Body Shop was founded with an ethical trading ethos by Anita and Gordon Roddick in the UK in 1976 and has more than 200 stores in the UK.

It operates more than 900 stores in 20 countries, with a further 1,600 franchised stores in an additional 69 countries, and a total of around 22,000 employees worldwide.

The Body Shop first opened in Australia in 1983 as a franchised business, before the company bought out its Australian master franchisee in 2015 and the local stores have been owned and run by the British business ever since.

In 2006 the Roddicks sold the company to French beauty giant L’Oreal for £652 million (A$1.26 billion) in a decision that raised eyebrows among its loyal fans who saw it as a betrayal of the company’s ethical values.

L’Oreal then sold the business to Brazilian beauty giant Natura in 2017 for £880 million (A$1.7 billion), and it was subsequently sold again – to European turnaround specialist Aurelius Group – in November 2023 for £207 million (A$400 million).

At the time, Aurelius touted it as an “opportunity to re-energise an iconic global beauty and personal care brand with impressive consumer recognition” but reports suggest that trading over the key Christmas period was not as strong as hoped.

It also emerged that The Body Shop had “insufficient working capital”, according to the BBC.

Reports also suggest the company may owe between £2-3 million (A$3.9-5.8 million) to former employees.

In late January, Aurelius sold most of The Body Shop’s mainland Europe business and parts of its Asian business to an unnamed, privately-owned family company and several key executives have left the business.

The Body Shop and Aurelius have so far declined to comment on the reports.

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