Goldman Sachs plotting £600m bid for The Body Shop

The figure is significantly under the asking price of £850m – and lower than what L'Oréal bought the cosmetics brand nearly a decade ago

Global investment banker Goldman Sachs is believed to be about to submit a £600m bid for The Body Shop, according to Reuters.

The first deadline for the submission of tenders is set for today Friday 7 April.

The news agency reports that the offer would be significantly under the asking price of £850m – a price tag that the financial press has described as “wildly optimistic”.

Nevertheless, numerous investors, including Advent International, Apax Partners, Bain Capital, BC Partners, Carlyle and CVC Capital Partners (in collaboration with former L’Occitane boss Emmanuel Osti) have shown an interest in purchasing the ailing company.

South Korean conglomerate CJ Corp has also said it is considering entering a bid.

CJ Corp is the holding company for food-to-entertainment conglomerate CJ Group, but it has not mentioned a figure, nor which arm of the conglomerate might be interested.

L’Oréal confirmed in February this year that it would be selling The Body Shop, having reported that the brand’s operating profits had dived by 38% in the year to 31 December 2016, to €33.8m.

In 2006, the conglomerate bought the brand for a larger sum than Goldman Sachs might be offering now - £650m - but since then, the brand, which was launched by Anita Roddick in 1976, has struggled to find its feet.

L’Oréal discontinued many of its key products and the predominantly female customer base, enamoured of The Body Shop’s claims of natural ingredients and ethical sourcing, reacted adversely to the idea of L’Oréal as a parent company. Many accused Roddick, who died only a year later, of having ‘sold out’.

Since that time, other ethical and natural retailers such as Chantecaille, Lush and Dr Hauschka have proliferated – competition with which The Body Shop has been unable to keep pace.