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Irish staff at the Body Shop wait for wages as retailer shuts stores in the Republic

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Irish staff at the Body Shop have refused to work on Thursday after being informed that they would not be paid for the last three weeks of their employment. 

The cosmetics and skincare brand closed its doors across Ireland on Thursday after a tumultuous period for the struggling retailer, with the company set to go into liquidation next week, it is understood. 

Employees at the Body Shop were informed yesterday by management that they would not receive payment for the hours worked from the February 11, but that they were still expected to work today, Thursday, so stock from the stores could be cleared.

People Before Profit TD, Mick Barry, said he has spoken with Body Shop’s Cork store, which employs five staff members, and said they are owed a combined total of more than €10,000 in unpaid wages. One of those workers is owed more than €4,000.

A Closed sign stuck to the door of The Body Shop store in Cork, which employs five staff members

“Workers are owed three weeks wages and holiday pay,” said TD, Mick Barry. “Like the Debenhams workers and many others before them, they will now have to keep their fingers crossed and hope they can recoup the monies owed to them from a liquidation process.”

The Body Shop employs 50 people in the Republic across its 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.

It is understood that store stock was scheduled to be removed from the Body Shop stores across Ireland on Thursday, however, these plans have been altered following refusals by staff to work without compensation. 

Once a thriving cosmetics and skincare brand known for its ethical commitments, the Body Shop has struggled in recent months, with widespread store closures and job cuts hitting the retailer’s business in both Europe and the UK

Last year, The Body Shop was sold to Pan-European investor Aurelius, which owns Footasylum and Lloyds Pharmacy, in a deal worth £207m (€242m).

Most of the retailer’s European business was then subsequently sold to another buyer, who was not named at the time. It is know understood that the buyer is a company named Alma24. 

Since then, The Body Shop’s German arm has fallen into administration, with staff in Belgium told that their jobs were not safe. The German and Belgian stores employ a total of 460 people.

The Body Shop’s UK business, which is still under the ownership of Aurelius, also fell into administration, with the company announcing it would shut up to half of its 198 stores in the UK and cut the size of its head office, leading to hundreds of job losses.

Concerns raised

Following the announcement that the skincare retailer would close, several concerns have been raised about how the redundancies have been handled, with HR services firm, Peninsula Ireland saying it “raises the importance of employer responsibilities in these situations.”

“We are concerned to hear about the handling of redundancies during The Body Shop closures in Ireland,” said Peninsula CEO, James Potts.

“Upon being made redundant, employees in Ireland are entitled to the payment of their work done, annual leave owed, and in some cases, redundancy payments. Indeed, failure to deliver this may result in complaints being taken out against the employer.”

“This situation highlights the importance of adhering to fair procedures when it comes to any type of dismissal, including redundancy, and the value of employer preparation and knowledge for this unfortunate eventuality.”

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