In Brief

Why the Body Shop is returning to its roots

Ethical cosmetics company opening activism-concept London store

The Body Shop is aiming to return to its roots with a UK concept store in central London that echoes the activist ethos of its founder, Anita Roddick.

A special store, opposite Bond Street station, will include a refill station for shower gels, a feature the chain abandoned in the 1990s after customers failed to understand how it worked. There will also be a zone to encourage customers to join a collective of local activists.

The brand’s managing director, Linda Campbell, told The Guardian: “We are reviving the idea of empowerment of girls and women, which is core to our business. We will be encouraging shoppers to come up with ideas for how they can help their local communities.”

The company will hope that the rebrand will erase memories of when founder Anita Roddick sold it to L’Oréal, the world’s biggest cosmetics maker in 2006.

The chain was subsequently sold in 2017 to the Brazilian cosmetics company Natura in a deal thought to be worth £880m.

The Body Shop was founded in 1976. Its first outlet, in Brighton, sold just 25 products. It was one of the first chains to ban the use of ingredients tested on animals and one of the first to promote fair trade with developing countries.

It now has 3,000 stores in more than 60 countries. In the UK, it has nearly 2,000 employees across its physical and online stores. The company is defying the high street “gloom and doom”, Campbell said, with UK sales up by 4% year on year.

Anita Roddick died in 2007 after suffering an acute brain haemorrhage. She had been named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2003.

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