'Underperforming' stores could be at risk, Sussex expert says, as The Body Shop appoints administrators

‘Underperforming’ high street stores could be at risk of closure, a Sussex expert has said, as The Body Shop appoints administrators.
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Nick Stockley, a leading partner at Sussex-based law-firm Mayo Wynne Baxter, who specialises in commercial law, said The Body Shop bosses will probably look to restructure the business, rather than close it down entirely.

This could see the chain go the way of some other beloved high street brands, with underperforming branches cancelling their leases and closing up shop.

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"The shops that earnt higher revenues may remain, although the legal owners will change, whereas the less successful shops will cease operating. This will inevitably lead to job losses,” he told Sussex World.

The Body Shop, in Chichester. Photo: Connor Gormley.The Body Shop, in Chichester. Photo: Connor Gormley.
The Body Shop, in Chichester. Photo: Connor Gormley.

“The Body Shop may, under a new legal owner, try to focus more on trading online, despite its long-established presence on the high street. There will be some value in both the business name, the general goodwill of the business and the stock, so the administrators will look to sell these assets and any buyer may take on the leases for the more profitable shops.”

Although The Body Shop can’t cut back on costs and tighten its belt quite that simply, as Mr Stockley explains: “The Body Shop’s unsecured creditors and its suppliers will face the prospect of receiving little, if any, payment of debts owed by The Body Shop.

Mr Stockley’s comments come after The Body Shop was bought by private equity firm Aurelius several weeks ago, following reports of disappointing sales over Christmas. This marks the third time the company has changed hands since it was sold by founder Dame Anita in 2006, just before her death.

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A staple of UK High Streets, the business has more than 200 stores up and down the country, with notable branches in Chichester, Worthing, Crawley, Brighton, Hove, Burgess Hill and Horsham – among others. It also has a registered “global office” based in Littlehampton, meaning any structural changes are likely to affect Sussex high streets all over the region. It’s also a business with a real history in the region; the business was founded in Brighton in 1976, by Littlehampton-born business woman and activist Anita Roddick, with the aim of providing customers with high-quality, ethically sourced skincare products.