Body Shop hopes refits will boost ailing sales

Body Shop is to test two new storefits, as well as bring Internet shopping to the UK, as it acts to stem a six-year sales slump in this country.

The beauty retailer is enjoying sales growth overseas, but management is only part way through repositioning the brand in the UK, where like-for-likes fell 13 per cent last year.

Executive chairman Adrian Bellamy said 15 to 20 per cent of a£70 million investment pot was earmarked for the UK. The money will be spent on IT and infrastructure, as well as the new-look stores.

An as-yet unspecified portion of the UK estate, which exceeds 300 stores, will be spruced up with a 'recycled' look, which involves cladding the traditional green interior with cork tiling, plus improved lighting and hemp backdrops.

Two London shops, at Brent Cross and on the King's Road, have already been revamped.

A second approach, which involves more structural work, will introduce a lighter wood finish and is likely to provide the benchmark for new stores. A global expansion target of 300 stores has been set.

The design has already been piloted in the US, and will make its debut in the UK within the next two months.

Body Shop's UK business will follow a similar path to the US, which has been successfully turned around, with online arm The Body expected to launch here next year.

In the year to February 28, Body Shop reported flat sales of£699.5 million. Pre-tax profits surged 40 per cent to£28.5 million.