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Fears grow for Body Shop stores in the Republic as some parts of European operations start to close

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Fears are mounting over the survival of The Body Shop in the Republic of Ireland as other parts of the retailer’s operations across parts of Europe started to be shut down on Friday.

The skincare chain’s German stores have been put into administration and staff in Belgium have been told that their jobs are not safe, according to reports.

The German and Belgian stores employ a total of 460 people.

A question mark has hung over the Irish operations for some time. There are 50 staff employed across seven stores in the Republic, but the future of the store in the North is not known at this stage.

A source at the retailer told the Irish Examiner that staff in the Republic will be given a notice period of two weeks and that the retailer will be closing all its stores and operations.

The Body Shop employs 50 people in the Republic across seven stores. Five of the stores have leases signed by The Body Shop International Ltd, according to most recent account filings. The other two stores operate under franchise agreements.

Last year, the Irish arm of the Body Shop reported a pre-tax loss of €1.6m which the company said was primarily driven by an impairment loss on intangible assets of over €1.5m.

The Body Shop’s stores in the Republic were sold to a separate buyer, along with most of other operations on the continent.

Pan-European investor Aurelius, which owns Footasylum and Lloyds Pharmacy, bought the skincare brand just six weeks before Christmas in a deal worth £207m (€242m).

In late January, however, Aurelius announced that it had sold most of its business in mainland Europe and parts of Asia to an unnamed buyer.

The Guardian has reported that company documents filings in Europe suggest the new buyer is a company named Alma24.

The Guardian reported that Aurelius said it was not a shareholder in Alma24.

The Guardian also reported that documents filed with the UK’s company registration office show that on January 30, Alma24 took out a charge, a form of financial guarantee, using as collateral a list of Body Shop properties. This is understood to be linked to providing security over completion of the European deal, the Guardian reported.

The Body Shop’s UK operations, which are still under the ownership of Aurelius were also put into administration in recent weeks. That has put more than 2,000 jobs at its 200 stores at risk.

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