The Body Shop’s new owner is preparing to call in administrators just weeks after taking over the retailer. 

The health and beauty retailer was bought six weeks before Christmas by European private equity firm Aurelius, which is now likely to consider closing a significant number of stores, according to Sky News.

After weak trading over Christmas and early January, Aurelius is reportedly preparing to appoint FRP Advisory to handle an insolvency process for the UK business, which could threaten a significant number of shops and jobs. 

The Body Shop currently trades from around 200 stores. There is no indication yet of how many will be impacted. 

Retail Week reported last week that The Body Shop had offloaded its business in “most of mainland Europe and in parts of Asia” to an “international family office” as part of its turnaround strategy.

The retailer said offloading parts of its business in the region would allow it to prioritise “strategically important markets” as it set its ambition “to create a modern and dynamic beauty brand”.

In a statement to Retail Week at the time, it said: “This further prioritises The Body Shop’s strategically important markets and global head franchise partner relationships, which it will look for opportunities to build.  

“The Body Shop will also focus on more effectively reaching customers by strengthening digital platforms, developing new sales channels and via differentiated retail experiences.   

“The announced sale is another decisive step towards delivering a strong turnaround strategy for The Body Shop, supported by the right structure.

“The ambition is to create a modern and dynamic beauty brand, relevant to customers and able to compete for the long term. The Body Shop must continue to create exceptional products, rediscover its unique voice and deliver financial stability.” 

Days ago, Retail Week also revealed that the brand’s previous owner, Brazilian beauty giant Natura &Co, was investigating unpaid bonuses for former employees since the sale

Natura’s group legal counsel reached out to the new owners to find out why former employees had not received the long-term incentive grants due as part of their severance.

The Body Shop has also seen change across its senior executive team, with interim chief executive Ian Bickley stepping down after Aurelius took over.

The Body Shop’s UK and Ireland managing director, Maddie Smith, is due to leave at the beginning of April.

Founded by pioneering entrepreneur Anita Roddick in 1976, The Body Shop was sold to Aurelius in November after it underperformed under the control of Natura.

Aurelius also owns fashion and sportswear retailer Footasylum in the UK along with the healthcare chain LloydsPharmacy, which is now in liquidation.