Pure Beauty

Next eyes The Body Shop for asset purchase deal

By Julia Wray | Published: 26-Feb-2024

The fashion retail giant has a history of acquiring ailing high street chains

The Body Shop could become the latest distressed high street chain to seize a lifeline from Next.

Simon Wolfson’s fashion retailer has approached FRP Advisory, The Body Shop’s administrator, about a potential deal to purchase assets of the Aurelius Group-owned beauty brand, reported Sky News.

However, the British news channel said there were doubts that FRP would choose to run a conventional auction.

It cited a source who’d suggested that contact between Next and FRP had already stalled.

FRP declined to comment on the reports. 

A potential obstacle to any deal between Next and The Body Shop is that the beauty player’s brand and intellectual property (IP) assets are not part of the administration process, with Aurelius having secured major assets including stock and IP.

It is anticipated that FRP will decide whether to launch an auction within weeks. 

And a sale of the restructured business in its new form back to Aurelius is a possibility.

Next has a history of snapping up ailing British retail businesses, with purchases in recent years including Fat Face, Joules, Made.com, Cath Kidston and JoJo Maman Bébé.

It also owns 51% of a joint venture with Victoria’s Secret operating the lingerie and beauty player’s UK and Ireland stores, and online business in the region. 

Recent years have also seen Next grow its presence in beauty, with Next opening dedicated Beauty Halls at former Debenhams sites at the start of the decade, and launching its first first in-house skin care brand Woah in 2022. 

According to Sky News’ sources, Next has been monitoring The Body Shop for some time. 

But a Next purchase would be unlikely to retain The Body Shop’s British stores.

Under FRP’s restructuring plans, half of its 198 UK stores will close, with seven stores across London, Kent, Warwickshire and Bristol, shuttering immediately. 

The Body Shop employs around 2,200 people in the UK, including 750 staff at its head office, with some 300 head office roles slashed already as part of the process.

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