The Body Shop

The Body Shop International Limited, trading as The Body Shop, is a cosmetics, skin care and perfume company which is a subsidiary of Brazilian company Natura & Co.

The Body Shop International Limited
Founded27 March 1976 (27 March 1976)
FounderAnita Roddick
Number of locations
About 3,000 [1]
Key people
David Boynton (CEO)
  • Skin care
  • cosmetics
  • fragrances
Revenue US$ 1.4 billion (2017)
Number of employees
10,000 (2017)[1]
ParentL'Oréal (2006-2017)
Natura (2017-present)
WebsiteOfficial website

Founded in 1976 in Brighton, UK by Dame Anita Roddick. It currently has a range of 1,000 products which it sells in about 3,000 owned and franchised stores internationally in more than 65 countries.[2] The company is based in East Croydon and Littlehampton, West Sussex.

The company is owned by a Brazilian cosmetics company Natura and part of the Natura & Co group. The company had been owned by the French cosmetics company L'Oréal between 2006 and 2017. In June 2017, L'Oréal agreed to sell the company to Natura for £880 million. The deal was approved in September 2017.


In 1970, founder Anita Roddick visited a health and beauty shop in Berkeley, California run by sisters-in-law Peggy Short and Jane Saunders. The shop, which was named "The Body Shop", sold naturally scented soaps and lotions, with products sold in simple packaging and refillable bottles.[3]

Six years later Roddick opened her own health and beauty shop, also named The Body Shop, in her hometown of Brighton. The business' original vision was to sell products with ethically-sourced, cruelty-free and natural ingredients. None of Roddick's products were tested on animals, and the ingredients were sourced directly from producers.[4]

The shop began trading with just 25 products. Roddick had purchased urine sample bottles from a nearby hospital to sell her products in, but did not have enough of them, creating the business' refillable bottles policy. Labels were hand-written and Roddick did not advertise explicitly, preferring to rely on local press instead.[5]

In 1977, Roddick purchased another shop through selling 50% of the business to a local garage owner. Roddick's partner, Gordon, returned to Brighton from America in this time, and suggested the business foster growth through franchising. By 1984, the business had 138 stores, 87 of which were not located in the United Kingdom; by 1994, 89% of the business' locations would be franchises.[5]

The business went public in April of 1984, and was floated on London's Unlisted Securities Market, opening at a price of 95p, with the Roddicks keeping 27.6% shares in the company, and Anita continued as managing director so as to retain control of the company's direction. After it obtained a full listing on the London Stock Exchange, share prices in the company increased dramatically, with prices rising 10,944 percent in the first eight years. [5]

Throughout the 1980s and 90s, the company joined a number of campaigns related to social responsibility and environmental issues. These included a "Trade Not Aid" campaign in 1987, wherein the company sourced some of its ingredients directly from the native communities they originated from. The company also made alliances with Greenpeace and Amnesty International.[5]

In 1987, Roddick offered $3.5 million to the owners of the original Body Shop, Peggy Short and Jane Saunders, for the exclusive rights to the business' name. They agreed to the sale, and in 1992 changed their business' name to "Body Time".[3] The business closed in 2018.[6]

The business began trading in the United States in 1988, with all new stores in the States being company-owned until 1990.


In March 2006, The Body Shop agreed to a £652.3 million takeover by L'Oréal. It was reported that the Roddicks made £130 million from the sale.[7]

Media controversy surrounding the sale, particularly centred on L'Oréal and its use of animal testing; though L'Oréal ceased animal testing itself in 1989,[8] it had been selling in China since 1997,[9] where it is law that cosmetics be tested on animals before going to sale. Roddick stated that she believed she could be a "trojan horse" inside the company, working to improve its standards on animal testing and environmental issues.[10]

In September of 2007, Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, died following a major brain hemorrhage.[11] Following her death, she was recognised by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a businesswoman who "campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so".[12] The executive director of Greenpeace, John Sauven, said that Roddick was an "inspiration" to those campaigning on environmental and human rights issues.[11]

In 2017, L’Oreál sold The Body Shop to Brazilian cosmetics company Natura in a deal of €1 billion.[13]

In 2019 The Body Shop received its B-Corp certification.[14]

International expansion

Year of openingCountry[15]
1976 UK
1978 Belgium
1979 Austria, Greece, Sweden
1980 Iceland, Canada
1981 Denmark, Ireland, Finland
1982 France, Netherlands
1983 Cyprus, Germany, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, UAE
1984 Italy, Hong Kong, Malaysia
1985 Norway, Bahamas, Bahrain
1986 Portugal, Spain, Kuwait, Oman
1987 Malta, Antigua, Bermuda, Qatar, Saudi Arabia
1988 Gibraltar, United States, Taiwan
1989 Cayman Islands, New Zealand
1990 Japan
1991 Luxembourg
1992 Indonesia
1993 Mexico, Brunei, Thailand, Macau
1996 Philippines
1997 Korea
1999 Romania
2001 South Africa
2006 India, Russia, Poland, Czech Republic
2012 Hungary
2014 Brazil, Morocco
2015 Sri Lanka
2016 Chile
2017 Slovenia, Cyprus
2018 Bangladesh
2019 Serbia, Croatia

The Body Shop At Home: multilevel marketing network

In addition to retail channels, products from The Body Shop are available through "The Body Shop At Home" multilevel marketing network. The network was established in 1994.[16] Distributors (or consultants) can also recruit others to sell the products.[17] The Body Shop At Home currently operates in the UK and Australia.

The multilevel marketing program was known as "The Body Shop Direct" in Britain, and was first trialled in Australia in Gippsland in 1997.[18] In 1998, the Australian division was featured in the Australian Financial Review for their motivational-based policy of funding unrelated courses for home distributors, such as tarot reading or French polishing.[19] In 2003, Anita Roddick parted with her publisher HarperCollins, but despite this, planned to release two titles. She was advised that The Body Shop outlets would not stock the books, but that they would be made available through The Body Shop At Home™.[20] That same year, Roddick predicted that the company's home sales would fuel growth, and eventually exceed the sales of retail outlets.[21]

In 2018, there were about 15,000 consultants in the United Kingdom and about 2,500 in Australia.

In 2014, the Mail reported that young people in Surrey were being targeted online by The Body Shop At Home™ distributors. The consultant would advertise "free parties", and then the teenagers would feel pressured to buy products. It was highlighted that The Body Shop's parent company L'Oreal, was a signatory to a voluntary pledge from the Advertising Association, prohibiting the use of people under 16 years of age in peer-to-peer marketing. The Body Shop responded that the home consultants are self-employed, but that teenagers were not actively targeted to be party hosts or work as consultants. The consultant in question claimed that the teenager's mother had agreed to the party and been present for the duration.[22]

In 2014, an unfair dismissal case ruled against The Body Shop (Adidem Pty Ltd T/A The Body Shop v Suckling [2014] FWCFB 3611). Nicole Suckling worked in an administrative support role for The Body Shop At Home and began a role as an independent direct candle seller for company PartyLite. The Body Shop alleged that Suckling's access to their confidential contractual information could threaten The Body Shop's commercial interests.[23]

Social activism

The social activism dimension of the company first evidenced in 1986 when The Body Shop proposed an alliance with Greenpeace in the UK to save the whales. Roddick began launching other promotions tied to social causes, with much public and media interest. The Body Shop regularly featured posters on shop windows and sponsorship of local charity and community events. Over time, Roddick blossomed into a full-time critic of business in general and the cosmetic industry in particular, criticising what she considered the environmental insensitivity of the industry and traditional views of beauty, and aimed to change standard corporate practices[24] Roddick said: "For me, campaigning and good business is also about putting forward solutions, not just opposing destructive practices or human rights abuses".[25]

In 1997, Roddick launched a global campaign to raise self-esteem in women and against the media stereotyping of women. It focused on unreasonably thin models in the context of rising numbers in bulimia and anorexia.

Community Trade (formerly Trade not Aid)

Launched in 1987, The Body Shop’s Community Trade programme based on the practice of trading with communities in need and giving them a fair price for natural ingredients or handcrafts, including brazil nut oil, sesame seed oil, honey, and shea butter. The first Community Trade product was a wooden footsie roller which was supplied by a small community in Southern India, Teddy Exports, which is still a key Community Trade supplier.[26]

The Body Shop now works with 31 suppliers in over 23 different countries, benefiting 25,000 people directly each year.

Criticism has been made of the programme by fair trade activists. "The company's prominently displayed claims claim to pay fairer prices to the Third World poor but covered less than a fraction of 1 percent of its turnover", wrote Paul Vallely, the former chair of Traidcraft, in the obituary of Anita Roddick published in The Independent.

Sometimes considered anti-capitalist or against globalisation, The Body Shop philosophy is in favour of international marketplaces. The chain uses its influence and profits for programmes such as Community Trade, aimed at enacting fair labour practices, safe working environments and pay equality. According to The Body Shop, 95% of the company's products contain community traded ingredients.

The Body Shop regularly invites employees and stakeholders to visit Community Trade suppliers to see the benefits that the Community Trade programme has brought to communities and The Body Shop products.[27]

The Body Shop does not export its products to China, because of cosmetic animal testing regulation. However, The Body Shop has always sourced many of its baskets and other non-cosmetic supplies from China.

As part of the Community Trade programme, The Body Shop undertakes periodic social audits of its sourcing activities through Ecocert. [28]

A campaign by Christian Peacemaker Team and other allies protested the alleged role of The Body Shop in purchasing palm oil from Daabon, a third-party supplier in Colombia, who forcefully evicted 123 families from their land at Las Pavas, Columbia on 14 July 2009.[29][30] The Body Shop initially denied intentionally purchasing palm oil from the Las Pavas area,[31] but later dropped Daabon as a supplier after the company failed to provide proof that it was not involved in the land seizures.[32][33][34]

Policy on animal testing

The Body Shop has campaigned to end animal testing in cosmetics alongside animal cruelty NGO Cruelty-Free International since 1989. The company's products are non-animal tested and are certified cruelty-free by Cruelty Free International’s Leaping Bunny.[35]

The Body Shop’s campaigning has led to many changes in the law. The company’s campaign, Ban Animal Testing, launched in 1996 and led to a UK wide ban 8 years later. In 2013, the campaign launched as Against Animal Testing and made history when the EU banned animal testing in cosmetics, and marketing of any animal tested products.

In June 2017, The Body Shop and Cruelty-Free International launched Forever Against Animal Testing, its largest ever campaign, aimed at banning animal testing in cosmetics everywhere and forever. The campaign aims to receive 8 million signatures to present to the United Nations, to call for a global ban on animal testing in cosmetics. By the end of 2018, the petition had reached 8.3 million signatures and was taken to the United Nations.

In October 2009, The Body Shop was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the RSPCA in Britain, in recognition of its uncompromised policy which ensures ingredients are not tested by its suppliers.[35]

The Body Shop Foundation

The Roddicks founded The Body Shop Foundation in 1990, which supports innovative global projects working in the areas of human and civil rights and environmental and animal protection. It is The Body Shop International's charitable trust funded by annual donations from the company and through various fundraising initiatives.[36] The Body Shop Foundation was formed to consolidate all the charitable donations made by the company. To date, The Body Shop Foundation has donated over £24 million sterling in grants. The Foundation regularly gives gift-in-kind support to various projects and organisations such as Children On The Edge (COTE).[37] Approximately 65% of the grants that the company funds come to nominations from the staff, consultants or franchisers attached to the company from all over the world.

In 2017, The Body Shop announced its new approach to corporate philanthropy, the World Bio-Bridges Mission (Re-Wilding the World). The purpose of the World Bio-Bridges Mission is to enrich biodiversity around the world while creating truly sustainable supply chains where possible.[38]


The Body Shop carries a wide range of products for the body, face, hair and home. The Body Shop claims its products are "inspired by nature" and feature ingredients such as marula oil and sesame seed oil sourced through the Community Trade program.

Products include:


The September 1994 investigative article "Shattered Image: Is The Body Shop Too Good to Be True?," written by Jon Entine and published in Business Ethics magazine, created an international controversy and led to dozens of stories in the international media, including articles on The New York Times' business section front page and on ABC World News Tonight. A flurry of news reports led to a temporary 50% drop in the market value of the stock of the company, which until that point had been considered a model "socially responsible" company.

Entine reported that Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop International in the UK, had stolen the name, store design, marketing concept and most product line ideas from The Body Shop[39][40][3] founded in 1970 in Berkeley, California by Peggy Short and Jane Saunders who started the French-style perfume store, where customers could do their own blending. Roddick subsequently fabricated her story of travelling around the world discovering exotic beauty ingredients. In 1989, Roddick purchased the US and Israeli rights to The Body Shop name, and the Berkeley-based chain of five stores renamed itself Body Time.

Roddick's unsubstantiated claims and inaccurate reports in popular articles and even some university case studies that Roddick's The Body Shop "gave most of its profits to charity", documents from Britain's Charity Commission showed that Roddick's company gave nothing to charity over its first 11 years and was penurious in its philanthropy thereafter. The Body Shop also faced millions of dollars in claims by disenchanted franchisees.

Entine referred to The Body Shop's marketing as "greenwashing," which was one of the first uses of that term. The article in Business Ethics (now defunct), which was cited with a National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism in 1994, is still widely used in university business ethics classes and is generally credited with prompting companies claiming to be socially responsible to match their claims with operational practices and to increase transparency.

The "Shattered Image" article had originally been scheduled to be published as a 10,000-word feature in Vanity Fair earlier in 1994 but was dropped after legal threats by The Body Shop. The original article was eventually published in 2004 by The Nation Books in Killed: Great Journalism Too Hot to Print,[41] edited by David Wallis. Business Ethics, which had featured Roddick on its cover just the year before, subsequently agreed to print a much shorter version of the exposé.

In April 2013 it was revealed that The Body Shop was charging Irish consumers up to 33% more than their London counterparts.[42]


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