UK beauty chain The Body Shop goes into administration after years of struggles

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LONDON (AP) — The Body Shop, the British beauty and cosmetics retail chain, said on Tuesday that it has appointed insolvency administrators after years of financial struggles.

The retailer, which grew from a single shop in 1976 to become one of the most recognizable retailers on the British high street with hundreds of stores in the United Kingdom and beyond, is known as an early champion of ethical practices in business.

FRP, the administrators hired by The Body Shop, said it will “now consider all options to find a way forward for the business.”

“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," FRP said.

The announcement came just weeks after the chain's new owners Aurelius, a European private equity firm specializing in buying and turning around troubled firms, took control of the business.

The retailer of soaps, creams and make up was founded in 1976 by Anita Roddick and her husband as one of the first companies to promote so-called ethical consumerism, highlighting its fair trading practices and cosmetics and skincare products that were not tested on animals.

Roddick, an environmental and human rights campaigner as well as a businesswoman, was lauded as the “Queen of Green” because she put corporate social responsibility and environmentalism front and center of her business long before it became fashionable.

The brand became hugely popular in the 1980s, when it listed on the London Stock Exchange, and has stores in some 80 countries, including many operated through franchises.

Roddick and her husband sold The Body Shop to beauty giant L'Oreal in 2006. The brand was passed on to Natura, the Brazilian cosmetics business, in 2017, which sold it on to Aurelius late last year in a deal valued at 207 million pounds ($261 million.) The company employed about 7,000 people worldwide at the time of the takeover.

At the time, Aurelius expressed optimism that it could re-energize the iconic British brand “despite the challenging retail market.”

The chain will continue to trade through stores and online during the administration process, but the news that it has gone into administration will likely put hundreds of jobs at risk.