Last week saw Brazil's Natura complete its USD 1.1bn acquisition of Body Shop International, the British cosmetics and skincare company originally founded in 1976 by the late Dame Anita Roddick and more recently owned by French cosmetics conglomerate L'Oréal.
The sale of the company to L'Oréal back in 2006 attracted a lot of mainstream media attention over claims that L'Oréal had continued to test cosmetic products on animals, something that was completely at odds with the Body Shop's corporate philosophy and seemingly contradicted L'Oréal's statements that animals had not been used in cosmetic testing since 1989. The acquisition by Natura brings Body Shop back into the ownership of a company which is perhaps more aligned with the original values of its founder, with Natura having made sustainable development one of its principles since it was founded in 1969.
Natura is Brazil's biggest cosmetics manufacturer and, unlike the Body Shop, with retail outlets all over the world, it has focused on direct sales as its route to market, with the number of direct sales consultants quite staggering. There are over 1.75 million in Brazil and a further circa 250,000 abroad.
Based on a public statement made last week by Natura's co-chairman Luiz Seabra, it would appear that by combining Natura's brands, the Australian brand Aesop (acquired in 2013) and now the Body Shop, the goal is to "turn the three brands into omni-channel ones through a system of shops, online and direct sales".
Does this mean we'll see a new take on the '60s catchphrase "Ding Dong, Avon Calling!"?