The new owner, as expected, is private equity firm Aurelius Group (which also owns Footasylum). It’s changing hands in a deal with an enterprise value of £207 million ($254 million).
The agreement also includes a potential earn-out of £90 million but is still well below the €1 billion that Natura paid for it.
Its soon-to-be ex-owner CEO said the deal is “another important step in Natura &Co’s new development cycle to unlock significant value. Refocused, deleveraged and leaner, Natura &Co will now be able to fully concentrate on its core relationship selling expertise in Latin America while also continuing the optimisation of Avon International’s footprint.”
Opportunity to re-energise the brand
So what does it mean for The Body Shop itself under its CEO Ian Bickley?
Aurelius said it now has the “opportunity to re-energise an iconic global beauty and personal care brand with impressive consumer recognition”. It said the business is a “trailblazer which has set the standard for beauty brands in minimising environmental impact, maximising social benefits and ensuring animal welfare”. And Aurelius’s “operational taskforce” will partner with the “highly experienced management team to optimise operations and develop the offering across channels”.
The deal should close next month, subject to approval by the relevant competition and regulatory authorities.
The Body Shop is headquartered in London and employs around 7,000 staff, with operations in 89 markets, over 900 company-owned stores in 20 countries and partnerships with head franchisees that operate around 1,600 franchised stores in a further 69 geographies.
Aurelius said it will focus on the omnichannel retail and wholesale markets. “This, combined with The Body Shop’s iconic brand and heritage in socially responsible products, means that despite the challenging retail market there is an opportunity to re-energise the business to enable it to take advantage of positive trends in the high-growth beauty market,” it explained.
And Ian Bickley added: “Today, we celebrate a truly historic moment for The Body Shop as we join forces with Aurelius to begin a new chapter, allowing us to continue building the relevancy of this global brand for future generations. The Body Shop is not only a beauty brand, but also an iconic social business that has captured hearts in nearly every corner of the world. We are deeply grateful to Natura &Co for their unwavering support and I’m looking forward to working hand in hand with Aurelius as we adapt and flourish in new global retail environments, always with an eye on sustainable and profitable growth.”
Challenges ahead says analyst
Analysts think there are challenges ahead for the new owner. Tash Van Boxel, Analyst at GlobalData, said: “The Body Shop’s recent struggle has been driven by consumers trading down to more affordable retailers, casting aside sustainability and ethical claims in favour of value for money and lower price points.
“If new owner, Aurelius, hopes to improve the fate of The Body Shop, the focus must be on broadening its pricing architecture to stem the flow of consumers switching away to value players and discounters.”
She also highlighted how it did well in the pandemic with its market share peaking at 1.4% in 2020, although this dropped to 0.8% last year.
She thinks Aurelius should focus on “widening the appeal of The Body Shop brand via partnerships or concessions with other retailers such as John Lewis & Partners. This will enable the retailer to reach a more varied audience and ensure that it can take advantage of the ongoing demand in the sector.”
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