Body Shop founder Anita Roddick dies

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: The body shop, Anita roddick, L'oréal

One of the pioneers of ethical and green business practices for the
cosmetics industry, Dame Anita Roddick, died yesterday in
England at the age of 64, following a brain hemorrhage.

Roddick founded the first Body Shop outlet in Brighton back in 1976, stocking just 15 lines that were based on natural ingredients not tested on animals - principles she was to stick with and which were to prove the making of the business. Likewise those principles have given rise to the fastest growing area within the personal care industry - natural-based ingredients - a segment that has likewise piggybacked on the ethical and environmental stance that Roddick adopted as an integral part of the business' operations. Following its launch, the operation soon mushroomed into a nation-wide retail phenomenon that eventually developed into a network of over 2,000 stores spread over 50 countries. Having reached an expansion rate of 50 per cent per annum in the early 80s, the business was eventually floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1986 and by 1991 its value stood at £350m (€515m). But in building up the business Roddick did all she could to establish it on her terms, which meant respecting the environment, ensuring fair trade throughout the manufacturing process and to also avoiding the testing of animals at any stage of the manufacturing process. Indeed her campaigns against the testing of animals for finished cosmetics products helped lead to a ban being implemented in the UK, the first of its kind, and one that was eventually to give way to a European-wide ban being adopted by the EU. Noted as an anti-corporate and anti-establishment campaigner, Roddick once notably said: "I hate the beauty industry. It is a monster selling unattainable dreams. It lies. It cheats. It exploits women." ​ In answer to this criticism of the industry, Roddick marketed her products on sound principles, never making promises she did not believe Body Shop products could fulfill. In recent years marketing campaigns have included women of all shapes, sizes and ages, reflecting what she believed were images that cosmetics-buying public could relate to, as opposed to the unobtainable super model images that other leading cosmetics companies chose to market their products around. These principles not only won Roddick a great deal of respect and kudos from her customers, it also gained her significant standing in the business world as sales rocketed and the succesfully formula was rolled out into new product categories and, in turn, markets. From the early 80s onwards her hard work was recognised with a string of awards and accolades, including the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year award in 1984, the Women's Center's Leadership award in 1996, before being made an Officer of the British Empire in 1999 and eventually becoming a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2003. Roddick also set up the Body Shop foundation, an organization that supports global projects, many in emerging and developing regions, with the aim of promoting human and civil rights, together with animal and environmental protection. In March 2006 Roddick sold the Body Shop to the world's largest cosmetic company, L'Oreal. However, the £652m deal did attract some criticism over double standards, as, at the time of the acquisition, L'Oreal was continuing to test some of its ingredients on animals. Despite this the business has gone from strength-to-strength since it was sold, recently reporting 7 per cent sales growth and launching a number of new product lines, as well as taking the initiative to declare its current line of products 100 per cent vegetarian. Roddick leaves behind a husband, Gordon Roddick, and two daughters, together with a legacy that helped spearhead a more progressive and sustainable direction for cosmetic and personal care companies to be inspired by.

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