Thursday, May 30, 2024

Northern Ireland Body Shop stores to stay open

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Administrators confirmed on Thursday that the shops in Northern Ireland are among 116 across the UK which are set to remain open.

A further 75 stores elsewhere in the UK are to be closed in a phased period over the next four to six weeks, joint administrators at FRP have confirmed.

It was announced two weeks ago that the retailer, which operated more than 200 shops across the UK, had been placed into administration.

In a further announcement on February 20, the administrators said more than half of current stores would stay open, with seven to shut. Now a further 70 stores are closing, with 489 people set to lose their jobs as a result.

According to the administrators, a reduced store footprint will coincide with a “renewed focus on the brand’s products, online sales channels and wholesale strategies, bringing the brand in line with industry peers and supporting a return to financial stability”.

Tony Wright, joint administrator, said: “In taking swift action to right-size The Body Shop UK store portfolio, we have stabilised the business and are providing the best opportunity for this iconic brand to have a long-term, sustainable future.

“The UK business continues to trade in administration, and we remain fully focused on exploring all options to take the business forward.”

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said: “This is welcome news for Body Shop workers, the two shopping centres and consumers that these two stores will remain open.

“Sadly we have seen too many shops close in recent years and this is one of the reasons why we want the Executive to recall the High Street Task Force to ensure a co-ordinated approach to dereliction on our high streets.”

The High Street Task Force was assembled in 2020 with the goal of revitalising Northern Ireland’s towns and cities.

It published a a five-year reconstruction plan – which included reform form of business rates and planning policy – in 2022 shortly before the Executive collapsed over post-Brexit Trading arrangements.

The Body Shop currently employs more than 2,000 people in the UK, and administrators have stressed that the process will only affect its UK business, with international franchises not impacted.

The retailer was founded in 1976 by Anita Roddick and her husband Gordon as one of the first companies to promote so-called ethical consumerism, focusing on ethically produced cosmetics and skincare products.

It comes only weeks after new owners, European private equity firm Aurelius, took control of the business.

Aurelius, which specialises in buying and turning around troubled firms, secured a £207m deal in November to buy The Body Shop from Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura & Co.

It only took control of operations officially on January 1. Aurelius said it had been unable to revive the fortunes of the business after difficult trading conditions over Christmas and new year.

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