Promoting beauty in the customer’s eye instead of the beholder’s, The Body Shop International sells skin and hair care products so natural they sound edible (such as Coconut Milk Body Lotion and Banana Shampoo). The company combines activism with marketing, encouraging women to focus on self-esteem as well as social and environmental causes. The Body Shop operates more than 2,700 stores (the majority are franchised) in 50-plus countries. It also sells its products, such as its new Natrulift firming skincare line, online and through The Body Shop at Home, an in-home sales program in the UK. Founded in 1976 by Dame Anita Roddick, The Body Shop is owned by France’s L’Oréal.
New products and new markets are key to The Body Shop’s growth strategy. The chain has consistently delivered about 4% of its parent company’s total sales over the past three years. In 2011 its total sales grew by nearly 2% vs. 2010, driven by the addition of about 140 new stores and a solid 4% gain in same-store sales. The Body Shop grew in both Europe and North America, while expanding into new markets in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia and Egypt), Asia (India, Hong Kong), and Eastern Europe. The chain is aggressively growing its online business and its presence in global Travel Retail outlets in about 45 markets worldwide. The strong sales growth and increase in profitability in 2011 came despite the fact that The Body Shop’s ethical and environmentally friendly practices, including no-animal testing and the use of sustainably sourced oils and other vegetarian ingredients, lead to higher prices for its products than rivals such as Bath & Body Works and Burt’s Bees.