Fri, 27 May 2022 | BUSINESS SALE
High street fragrances retailer Bodycare has reportedly engaged advisors to explore a potential sale of the business. The company, which trades from more than 100 UK stores, has suffered as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns and the subsequent major drop in UK high street footfall during the pandemic.
The company is working with Interpath Advisory on the process and is said to be reviewing several options for its future, with reports indicating that the sale remains at an early stage.
Prior to the pandemic, the chain had been successful and profitable. Established in Skelmersdale, Lancashire in 1970, the family-owned business grew to be a leading cosmetics retailer, selling products by brands including Nivea, L’Oreal and Elizabeth Arden.
However, as with a huge number of high street-focused UK retailers, the chain was hit hard by the pandemic, with reports citing sources that claim the company lost millions of pounds over the past two financial years.
Bodycare’s parent company, GR & MM Blackledge, reported turnover of £85.6 million for the year ending December 31 2020, down 38 per cent from £139.3 million in 2019, and recorded post-tax losses of £4.6 million, compared to profits of £1 million a year earlier.
In the report, the parent company detailed the impact of the initial lockdown, which saw all stores forced to close from the end of the first quarter of 2020 until mid-June, with some not reopening until mid-July. Stores were then impacted by further lockdowns in Q4 2020.
Despite the reopening of stores, the company said at the time that footfall had not come close to matching pre-pandemic levels. During 2020, the business took on a £2 million bank overdraft facility, as well as a £7.875 million loan through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan scheme, which was repaid in full.
The sale process for Bodycare comes at a time when retail in the UK, which is continuing to recover from the devastating impact of COVID-19, is rapidly changing. As noted in a recent BSR insight, UK retail is increasingly moving away from the high street to out of town parks, which respond to the growing demand for a hybrid shopping experience combining both in-person and online retail.
While the UK high street is continuing to suffer from the effects of COVID-19, the wider cosmetics sector is being forecast to record a positive year. With lockdown measures seemingly a thing of the past, a greater amount of socialising and formal events are set to take place and a significant number of workers are expected to return to offices, meaning that sales of cosmetics products such as make-up are expected to be strong.
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