500 stores in five years
L’Oréal announced the entry of The Body Shop in Brazil in October 2013 with the acquisition of 51% of Emporio Body Store. Although information on investment and product development in Brazil has not yet been disclosed entirely, at the end of 2014, when this article was written, The Body Shop brand was available in 130 points of sale, either Empório Body Store or The Body Shop outlets. The company forecasts all Emporio Body Store retail stores to turn into The Body Shop in 2015 and has announced plans to expand the number of franchise stores from 122 to 500 in five years.
"The brand is being very well received and we are looking after the project with particular attention so as to continue with the solid relationship we’ve built with both the market and the consumers over our first months in Brazil,” says Tobias Chanan, founder of Body Emporio Store.
When asked about speculations involving the opening of a The Body Shop plant in Brazil, Chanan says that “at this stage, all products will be imported.”
Brazilian raw materials
The Brazilian project can also be a great opportunity to expand the use of the country’s native raw materials by The Body Shop. Currently, the multinational partners with communities of local farmers, artisans and rural cooperatives in more than 20 countries, but only two of the ingredients are extracted from Brazilian soil - soybean oil and babassu oil - and the products made from these raw materials are not yet available in Brazil.
A Brazilian success story
Tobias Chanan started the Empório Body Store in 1997, with a store specialized in imported cosmetics at Shopping Iguatemi, in Porto Alegre. The operation was made possible by the favorable exchange rate and the popularity enjoyed by international products among Brazilian consumers in the 1990s. But it was only in 2001 that the brand gained its emporium character – inspired by a trip to California, Chanan decided to adopt a handmade concept for the manufacturing of the products, which still remains the company’s philosophy to this day.
Ten years later, entrepreneur Helio Seibel saw the potential of Emporio Body Store and acquired 65% of the company, which allowed the installation of its own plant and the consolidation of the franchise model. With sales valued at R$ 20 million in 2012, Emporio Body Store became an attractive contender for acquisition by The Body Shop, which already operated in 60 countries around the world and was studying its entry into the Brazilian retail market.
The Brazilian outlets join over 3,000 The Body Shop stores worldwide. Among its iconic products is the world’s first body butter, launched in 1992. According to company data, one tube of body butter is sold every two seconds. On the other hand, Emporio Body Store became known in Brazil for its bath and body care lines Lolita, Leite de Cabra (‘Goat Milk’) and Sakura No Ki.
The English company Lush Cosmetics, which returned to Brazil in March, and the Australian Aesop brand, which opens its second store in São Paulo in January 2015, are expected to be The Body Shop’s main competitors in Brazil. Not coincidentally, the three brands share many values, including their support for fair trade initiatives and their campaign against animal testing.