Body Shop posts increased sales for 2005

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Comparable store sales Middle east

The Body Shop says that widespread criticism of its merger with
French cosmetics giant L'Oreal has failed to have an impact on the
stronger performance the company has experienced throughout the
financial year.

The company announced its intention to merge with L'Oreal back in March, but it said that its financial results in the eight weeks up to April 22 showed that comparable store sales were up 5 per cent, which edged the growth ahead of the 4 per cent recorded for 2005.

The announcement was made alongside the figures for the full financial year to February 25, which revealed that sales reached £772m (€1.1bn). The company said that this figure was mainly driven by the addition of 88 new stores worldwide, as well as a strong growth in its internet sales in the US and for it's Body Shop At Home channel.

The company said that the roll-out of its new store format had also had a major impact on sales, helping to attract more customers, as well as orientating them towards the products they wanted.

Likewise expansion into new markets, specifically Russia and Jordan had helped to boost stores sales.

The figures were in line with expectations, which were downgraded in January following disappointing Christmas trading, particularly in the mainstay US and UK markets, where retailers experienced slow sales across the board.

The company said that in the Americas region retail sales comparable store sales fell by 1 per cent, but were redeemed by the increased performance of its e-commerce platform, where sales were said to have doubled.

In the Asia Pacific region comparable store sales grew by 6 per cent, boosted by strong brand positioning and by the general robustness of the region's economy. In Malaysia and Indonesia comparable store sales were said to have grown by 17 per cent, whereas the Japanese market reported a 7 per cent jump.

In Europe, Middle East and Africa comparable store sales grew by 7 per cent, mainly on the back of strong growth in the Middle East and Nordic countries, together with France, where comparables store sales growth exceeded 11 per cent.

The all-important UK and Republic of Ireland markets reported comparable stores sales growth of 2 per cent, which was claimed to be a good performance considering the tough Christmas trading conditions.

Sales had also been boosted by product innovation, the company said. Over the past year this has included a number of new launches, including its Spa Wisdom range, Strawberry and Passion Fruit bath and body ranges as well as three new lines in its heritage Vitamin E skin care range.

Operating profit grew by 6 per cent to reach £41.5m, in line with forecasts made in January. This also reflects a comprehensive restructuring programme to up production efficiencies.

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