Tycoon Mike Jatania-Backed Consortium Nears Deal for Body Shop

(Jason Alden/Bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) -- A consortium led by British tycoon Mike Jatania is nearing a deal to buy struggling UK cosmetics retailer The Body Shop out of administration, people with knowledge of the matter said. 

Aurea Holding, an investment firm that Jatania runs with former UBS Group AG banker Paul Raphael, is in exclusive talks to acquire The Body Shop after beating rival bidders in an auction process, according to the people. 

The consortium also includes Charles Denton, who was previously chief executive officer of fragrance and beauty brands Molton Brown and Erno Laszlo, the people said. The new owners plan to retain all of The Body Shop’s UK stores, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

The Body Shop fell into administration in February, three months after private equity firm Aurelius agreed to buy the chain for £207 million ($266 million). Administrators from FRP Advisory closed the retailer’s underperforming stores, leading to hundreds of job losses. FRP blamed the collapse on financial challenges under its previous owners Natura & Co.

A representative for the consortium declined to comment. A spokesperson for FRP couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. 

The Body Shop’s international business in Europe and parts of Asia were sold to a family office before the UK arm declared insolvency. FRP has been running an auction of the remaining business, which includes about 100 outlets, after concluding that an alternative restructuring was not viable.

The Body Shop was founded in 1976 by animal rights activist Anita Roddick, beginning with a small store in Brighton on England’s south coast. It became popular for selling cosmetics and hygiene products that were not tested on animals, but the business has struggled to compete with rivals and has been unprofitable for years.

Jatania built a fortune in cosmetics and sold Lornamead, the owner of personal-care brands including Lypsyl, to rival Li & Fung Ltd. for almost $200 million in 2013. In recent months, Jatania has been trying to sell a Grade I-listed stately home he owns in Denham, Buckinghamshire which previously housed American banker J. P. Morgan.

--With assistance from Irene García Pérez, Sabah Meddings and Damian Shepherd.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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