The Body Shop Canada to close 33 stores, end online sales

The Body Shop Canada will close nearly a third of its stores and end online sales as it seeks creditor protection, the Canadian subsidiary of the U.K. beauty and cosmetics shop announced Friday.

A court filing showed the company owes more than $3.3 million to unsecured creditors and about $16,400 to secured creditors.

The company did not say how many workers would lose their jobs as a result of the store closures in cities including Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon and Saint John.

The company said in a press release it hopes Ontario court proceedings will give it “breathing room” while it evaluates its strategic alternatives and engages in restructuring.

As part of that restructuring, the company will no longer accept gift cards, sell new gift cards or provide refunds, and will consider all new and previous purchases final, said Body Shop North America president Jordan Searle in a memo sent to Canadian staff on Friday and obtained by The Canadian Press.

The move comes after The Body Shop International was acquired by a private equity firm and put into administration last month, allowing it to restructure or wind down without paying off its debts.

At that time, the company told CBC News that its Canadian stores would not be impacted by the change.

CBC News has reached out to a spokesperson for more information.

Closure of online store a ‘surprise,’ says retail expert

While the writing was on the wall for the company’s Canadian stores after the U.K. branch filed for administration, the closure of its online store comes as a surprise, said Craig Patterson, the founder and publisher of Retail Insider.

“It does, honestly, very much surprise me that that type of move would be made in a Canadian market,” he said.

Consumers who no longer have access to a brick-and-mortar store but who may still want to shop at The Body Shop would have done so online, he said.

A woman and her dog walk by a storefront with a sign reading The Body Shop.
A Body Shop store in Toronto displays a sale sign in its window on Friday. It’s one of the 33 stores that the cosmetics company will sell as it files for creditor protection. (Victoria Grace Stunt/CBC)

He noted that some of the company’s competitors, such as the popular U.K. retailer Lush Cosmetics, have an online presence in Canada. Lush also operates brick-and-mortar stores across the country.

“Just not having that web presence, I think, is going to be detrimental to the company in Canada,” said Patterson.

The company, which was founded in 1976, took on an environmentally friendly ethos to distinguish itself in the cosmetics retail world, touting its cruelty-free approach to testing.

Lianne Foti, associate professor at the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics at the University of Guelph, says that over the years, it became harder for The Body Shop to differentiate itself in the market as more competitors started offering ethical and sustainable alternatives.

“The ethical beauty and skincare market, they’ve really seen significant increase in brands that promote similar…

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