Makeover time? South Korea's CJ Group weighs up a bid for The Body Shop

Rebecca Smith
L'Oreal currently owns The Body Shop
L'Oreal currently owns The Body Shop (Source: Getty)

One of South Korea's biggest conglomerates, the CJ Group, has an eye on The Body Shop.

It said it was mulling a bid for the high street stalwart in a regulatory filing, though nothing had been decided yet - including whether it would go forward and enter a bid.

Current owner L'Oreal put the brand in the shop window earlier this year, with a range of names already linked to a possible deal, including former L'Occitane boss Emmanuel Osti and Apax Partners.

Read more: Former Formula One owner and retail boss eyeing The Body Shop

The L'Oreal-owned retailer might have fallen out of favour with some consumers in the face of rising competition from the newer likes of Lush, while Boots tapped into what had been The Body Shop's niche of natural ranges, but beauty businesses are going down a storm in the Asian country at the moment. The CJ Group evidently thinks there's room for more.

French cosmetics giant L'Oreal picked up The Body Shop back in 2006 for £652.3m, but has seen slipping sales, with some querying whether the brand's ethical appeal had started to lose its shine and why L'Oreal had bought the chain in the first place, with brands like Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani amongst its armoury.

Then L'Oreal announced earlier this year it was "exploring all strategic options", before announcing it was putting the brand up for sale for €1bn (£851m).

The firm said it wanted to give The Body Shop "the best opportunities and full ability to continue its development.” This decision followed a steady decline in profits since 2012.

Read more: The Body Shop buyout well underway

The ethical skincare business, was founded in 1976 by the late Anita Roddick, and soon became a familiar face across the nation's high streets and now has a presence in 66 countries, favoured for using natural ingredients in its beauty products. But sales fell to €920.8m (£783.8m) last year, down from €967.2m in 2015.

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