The Body Shop administration | Why EX matters even in times of crisis

Why EX matters even in times of crisis

The Body Shop has entered administration in the UK, threatening 200 outlets and the jobs of over 2000 employees.

The iconic brand ran for almost 50 years, becoming a high street staple. However, it has faced an inability to keep up with consumer-demand and worsening cost-of-living crisis.

The move takes place three months after the company was bought by private equity company Aurelius – the firm said it was unable to revive The Body Shop after lack luster trading over Christmas and new year.

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Aurelius appointed the accounting firm FRP Advisory as administrators, who said in a statement that the company “faced an extended period of financial challenges under past owners, coinciding with a difficult trading environment for the wider retail sector” and they would “consider all options to find a way forward for the business and will update creditors and employees in due course”.

Last year, we saw Wilko close its doors and thousands of employees lose their jobs. The closing of many iconic high street brands over the past decade signals an inability of some brands to effectively respond to changes in society, specifically related to online-demand.

Does EX still matter?

The Body Shop, which was famously founded by environmentalist and human rights campaigner Dame Anita Roddick in 1976, was a pioneer in ethical cosmetics and skin care.

The company was a first of its kind in championing an opposition to animal testing and challenging female beauty standards of how women should look.

Many will be upset to hear the news of such an iconic brand closing their doors, but for employees at the cosmetics shop, the pain and anxiety of this news is likely to be unparalleled.

This news sheds light on the thought-provoking topic of whether employee experience still matters even if you’re closing your business.

Employees and managers at the firm will be wondering what the future holds. And not having all the answers, managers are likely to find themselves in difficult situations having to continue to manage staff during a period of anxiety and turmoil.

Even if a firm is going into administration, it has a responsibility to support managers, and the rest of the workforce, through mass redundancies.

Jim Moore, employee relations expert at Hamilton Nash, highlights the importance of maintaining good employee morale, even during an administration: “Despite the need to streamline the company, there are good business and moral reasons for leaders to look after their employees throughout the upheaval.

“Don’t forget that the company’s employees are one of the biggest assets to the business, and their motivation and professionalism will be key to making a success of whatever is left after the administration process is done.

“It's possible there may be a buyer for some or all of the existing stores. Treating employees well through this process may retain a ready talent pool of engaged workers willing to work with the new owner.

“Providing severance packages, references and careers guidance can reduce any sense of abandonment and betrayal that have the potential to fuel legal challenges from staff. It’s important to consider the public perception of the brand too, as companies like P&O learned when they sacked 800 staff by video calls – making front page news.

“Leaders can support employees through administration by being transparent about the process and timeline and treating them with compassion and gratitude. Other help could include providing personalised job search assistance and career coaching, or by offering mental health resources. The future of The Body Shop is uncertain, but its employees deserve support as they navigate the coming weeks.”

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