Body Shop to hit back in L'Oréal image battle

LONDON - The Body Shop is to bring in its first retained UK consumer PR agency as it battles to maintain its ethical image following last month’s sale to L'Oréal.

The firm, which last month agreed a £652m sale to the French cosmetics company, wants support for its four-strong UK press team.
'The UK region of The Body Shop International has shortlisted a number of PR agencies to support the in-house press office, regarding forthcoming consumer activity,' confirmed PR manager Zoe Cook. The firm retains Brunswick as its international financial agency.

The Body Shop's image came under intense scrutiny in the wake of the L'Oréal deal, with charity Baby Milk Action threatening to add it to its list of boycotted brands.

The charity highlighted Nestlé's 26 per cent stake in L'Oréal, alleging that Nestlé violated World Trade Organisation food marketing requirements, and that The Body Shop would be compromised because of the link. Nestlé has strongly rebutted the allegation.

Although The Body Shop and founder Dame Anita Roddick have stressed it would not lose the values on which it was formed, media have been sceptical.

L'Oréal's purchase followed a difficult trading period for The Body Shop in which shares plunged in both the UK and US.

But despite competition from 'ethical' outlets, The Body Shop is blazing a trail in new markets, such as Russia, and is expected to be profitable for L'Oréal.

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