Private equity firms keen on Body Shop

Paribas Affaires Industrielles has become the latest suitor to express an interest in the animal-friendly health and beauty group.

Paribas Affaires Industrielles (PAI), the private equity firm that has grown out of French bank BNP Paribas, has joined the queue of would-be suitors that are lining up to whisk away the Body Shop, Anita Roddick’s environmentally friendly health and beauty retail chain.

PAI is among an illustrous group of private equity firms to have shown an appetite for the business since October, when Roddick first invited tenders. Other parties that have looked at the 1,840-strong chain are Texas Pacific, Schroder Ventures and PPM Ventures. According to Financial News, PAI may bid up to £250m for the company.

Roddick and her husband Gordon, both environmental campaigners, founded the business in 1976. Their premise was to use natural ingredients and products that had not been tested on animals. This proved a success and during the 1980s, the business carved a niche in the retailing market. Since then rival brands have adopted similar strategies. Sales at Body Shop have declined and earlier in the year, the group issued a profit warning.

In the summer 2001, Roddick began negotiations with Grupo Omnilife of Mexico and Lush, the fast-growing UK health and beauty products rival, but these talks fell through. It is understood that a deal will not be closed until the New Year.