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Once pioneering Body Shop UK collapses into administration

FILE PHOTO: The Body Shop in Sao Paulo

By James Davey and Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters) -The British business of the Body Shop has collapsed into administration, putting 2,000 jobs at risk at the one-time pioneering ethical cosmetics retailer.

Founded in Brighton, southern England, in 1976 by late environmentalist and human rights activist Anita Roddick, the Body Shop was famous for promoting natural, ethically-sourced products and rejecting animal testing.

The retailer was one of the most popular on the British high street in the 1980s and 1990s but has faced much greater competition from newcomers in recent years, including from those also touting ethical credentials.

FRP, the business advisory firm appointed as administrator, on Tuesday said the Body Shop's 199 UK stores and online service would continue to trade.

"The Joint Administrators will now consider all options to find a way forward for the business and will update creditors and employees in due course," it said.

Going into administration, a form of creditor protection, can lead to a sale of the business, the closure of some or all stores and redundancies.

The UK operation's parent company had already sold its business across most of Europe and in parts of Asia.

CHANGING OWNERS

The Body Shop was bought by L'Oreal in 2006, before changing hands again in 2017 when the French cosmetics giant sold it to Brazilian cosmetics maker Natura&Co for 1 billion euros.

But after struggling with profitability, Natura in turn sold it on in November last year, to private investor Aurelius Group in a deal valued at 207 million pounds.

"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," said FRP.

It is the first major UK retail casualty of 2024.

Last year British homeware and household goods discount retailer Wilko shut down, with the loss of over 9,000 jobs, though some of its 400 stores were acquired by other retailers.

(Reporting by James Davey and Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Kate Holton and Keith Weir)