Mike Jatania consortium ‘close to’ Body Shop deal, ex-Molton Brown CEO is on board

A consortium led by super-rich entrepreneur Mike Jatania is nearing a deal to buy struggling UK cosmetics retailer The Body Shop out of administration, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

Reuters

Jatania is hugely successful businessman with plenty of previous experience in the beauty sector and currently runs the Aurea Holding investment business with ex-UBS Group banker Paul Raphael.

Aurea hasn’t commented on several reports that said it’s now in exclusive talks to acquire the remaining elements of the once-pioneering beauty chain after topping rival bidders in an auction.

It’s particularly interesting that the consortium he’s put together includes Charles Denton. He was previously CEO of high-end fragrance and beauty brands Molton Brown and Erno Laszlo. 

That raises the tantalising prospect that the potential new owners could see a more upmarket future for The Body Shop, which had struggled in the mass market as its founding ethical principles were widely adopted by its rivals, undermining its USP.

We’re also told that the new owners plan to keep all of The Body Shop’s UK stores open, according to various sources that cited unnamed people who didn’t want to be identified.

The Body Shop went into administration in February, three months after German private equity firm Aurelius had agreed to buy the international business for £207 million from Natura &Co. Natura had struggled to turn it around during several years of ownership after buying it from L’Oréal. 

The administration filing had been a shock coming so quickly after the takeover deal was announced. It saw massive closures of the chain internationally with a large number of stores in the UK also shutting.

Jatania is of Indian origin and came to the UK from Uganda as a child in the late 1960s. He previously ran Lornamead (which became part of the Fung Group in 2012). Through Lornamead he owned brands including Woods of Windsor, Yardley and Harmony haircare.

His Aurea Group says its aim is “helping founders in the beauty & personal care industry convert their vision into global success stories”. And it’s “building a ‘New Age’ Beauty & Personal Care company, through carefully selected acquisitions and active management, while ensuring we preserve the soul and vision of the founders in a spirit of partnership”.

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