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The Body Shop the cosmetic brand proving to the world that business and environment can go hand in hand test

Body Shop is a global cosmetic brand offering natural, cruelty free, ethical, and vegan products. It was founded in 1976 by late British environment and human rights campaigner Dame Anita Roddick. From a single store that sold 25 products, Anita Roddick led the company to establish a successful global brand in skincare, haircare, make-up, perfumes, and accessories. Body Shop has a range of 1000 products sold in 3000 stores in 65 countries. The Body Shop in its mission ‘to enrich, not exploit’, was the first cosmetics brands to prohibit testing on animals. The Body Shop also introduced Fair Trade to the beauty industry.

Image credits: CelebrityNetworth

Necessity is the mother of invention

Anita was born on October 23, 1942, in Littlehampton, England. She was trained as a teacher but as destiny would have it, she veered in a completely different business direction. It was on her educational trip to Israel while studying at the Newton Park College of Higher Education in Bath that further led her to travel to Europe, the South Pacific, and Africa. Here Anita got interested and acquainted with local rituals and customs followed for beauty and body care.

Upon her return to England, she met and married T. Gordon Roddick in 1970. They had two children Justine and Samantha. After marriage when a bohemian Gordon, decided to take off to ride a horse from Buenos Aires to New York, Anita decided to help him fulfill that dream. They sold off the restaurant they jointly owned and Gordon left soon after. 

While Gordon literally went off gallivanting and galloping, Anita decided to create a livelihood for herself and her two daughters. With Gordon’s advice to earn £300 a week, Anita invented chemical free and animal test free cosmetics that led to The Body Shop opening on March 26, 1976. The entrepreneur with ‘reuse, refill, recycle’ thinking, laid the foundation of The Body Shop’s environmental activism.

In 1977, Roddick opened a second shop. Gordon who returned from his trip to America then suggested franchising. In 1984, when the company went public, it had 138 stores of which 87 were located outside the United Kingdom. By 1994, 89% of The Body Shop stores were franchises.

Image credits: Cosmetics

Few Monumental dates

  • January 1980: First Store opens in Canada
  • January 1983: First Store in Australia
  • January 1984 First Store in Asia
  • April 1984: Company went public and was floated on London’s Unlisted Securities Market, opening at a price of 95p
  • January 1988: First Store opens in America
  • January 1990: Established The Body Shop Foundation
  • March 2006: L’Oreal Acquires The Body Shop
  • October 2019:  The Body Shop receives its B-Corp certification

The Body Shop Foundation

The Body Shop Foundation established in 1990 was the charitable trust of The Body Shop International that sells beauty and body products. The foundation was set up to support and fund projects around the world that focus on human rights, the environment, and animal protection. The Body Shop Foundation gave more than £23 million to a total of 2,932 different groups in more than 100 countries, to improve the lives of six million people. But in 2017, due to a difference in commitment to philanthropy between the Body Shop International and its Body Shop Foundation, the firm decided to withdrawn both its funding and the right to use the Body Shop name. Body Shop Foundation died a natural death.

Image credits: Quoteabelle

Awards and Recognition

– 1984

Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year

– 1988

OBE – Order of the British Empire

British Association of Industrial Editors, Communicator of Year

– 1991

Center for World Development Education’s World Vision Award, USA

The Financial Evening Standard Outstanding Entrepreneur Analysis Award

– 1992

National Association of Women Business Owners (US) Business Leader of Year

– 1993

Banksia Foundation’s Australia Environmental Award

Mexican Environmental Achiever Award

National Audubon Society Medal, USA

– 1994

Botwinick Prize in Business Ethics, USA

University of Michigan’s Annual Business Leadership Award, USA

Daily Express/Moet & Chandon Business Award

– 1995

Women’s Business Development Center’s First Annual Woman Power Award, USA

– 1996

Women’s Center’s Leadership Award, USA

The Gleitsman Foundation’s Award of Achievement, USA

Institute of Charitable Fundraising Managers (UK), Philanthropist of the Year

– 1997

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Honouree, Eyes on the

– 1998

Marketing Retail Design Award

– 1999

British Environment & Media Award

Chief Wiper-Away of Ogoni Tears, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, Nigeria

– 2001

International Peace Prayer Day Organisation’s Woman of Peace

– 2003

DBE (Dame Commander of the British Empire)

(Awards and Recognition credits: The Body Shop)

The Body Shop goes to L’Oreal

In 2006, Anita Roddick’s sale of The Body Shop to cosmetics giant L’Oréal for a sum of £652.3 million created a large controversy. L’Oréal the cosmetic giant had fundamentally different ideals. Though in principle it had ceased testing products on animals since 1989, the company regressed to it in 1997 when it was mandatory by Chinese law to enter China. When questioned about her decision to sell to L’Oréal, Anita Roddick said that The Body Shop would act like a “Trojan horse” that could influence the huge business from the inside. Unfortunately, Roddick suffered a major brain haemorrhage and died on September 10, 2007, and what she intended with L’Oreal never happened.

Body Shop products with Natura

In 2017, L’Oréal sold The Body Shop to Brazilian cosmetics company Natura in a deal of £880 million. The Body Shop is now part of Natura & Co, a global cosmetics group committed to cruelty-free beauty business. They continue to produce natural chemical free beauty products.

Products include:

  • Face and skincare
  • Cosmetics
  • Men’s skincare
  • Haircare
  • Fragrances

Beauty never fades

Body Shop scandals hit the media. In 1995, Body Shop was accused of low quality products that contained cheap, petrochemical ingredients. Soon after its claim about donating 25% of its revenue to charities, was revealed to be untrue. In 1996, Anita Roddick even stepped back to hand over management reigns to a new Managing Director but that too failed miserably. The company was going downhill and no longer a profitable business.

After Anita died in 2007, the company appointed a new CEO but L’Oreal could not turn it around. It is now with the new alliance formed with Natura in 2017 that The Body Shop hopes the company will soon be restored to its former glory. After all, beauty never fades.

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