French beauty giant L'Oreal said Friday it was in exclusive negotiations to sell The Body Shop, which it has owned for over a decade, to a Brazilian company.
Brazil's Natura Cosmeticos has put one billion euros ($1.1 billion) on the table in an "irrevocable bid" to buy the British-based retailer, founded in 1976 and specialising in natural beauty products, L'Oreal said.
The French company has been trying to sell The Body Shop for several months and Natura "is the best possible owner to nourish the DNA" of the retailer, L'Oreal CEO Jean-Paul Agon said in a statement. T
he sale is expected to be finalised during the second half of the year. Natura Cosmeticos called The Body Shop an "iconic" brand, operating 3,000 stores in 60 countries. Founded by the late Anita Roddick, The Body Shop saw huge growth rates with an ethical approach to cosmetics, notably by ruling out animal testing, and campaigning on social and environmental issues.
L'Oreal bought the brand for around 940 million euros in 2006 when it was at the height of its success. But since then, The Body Shop's performance has been declining. Last year, its sales fell 4.8 percent and its profit margin dropped to 3.7 percent, far below the double-digit margins achieved by L'Oreal's other brands.
Natura Cosmeticos is present in seven Latin American countries and in France and claims the number one spot in Brazil's cosmetic, fragrance and toiletry industry, stating as its aim to "improve the environment and society".