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French cosmetics company L'Oreal on Thursday confirmed that it was exploring sale of London-based The Body Shop as the beauty retailer registered fall in sales and profits. The company said it had not made any decision on the future of the retailer, which has more than 3,000 stores in 66 countries, but had "decided to explore all strategic options" in order "to give it the best opportunities and full ability to continue its development," The Guardian reported. The Body Shop's operating profit had dived 38 per cent to 33.8 million euros ($36 million) in the year to December 31, 2016. Sales sank nearly five per cent to 920.8 million euros ($981 million).
The pace of decline stepped up in the final and most important quarter of the year -- sliding by 6.3 per cent in total.Last year, The Body Shop tried to reaffirm its ethical principles with 14 targets for 2020, including ensuring all its natural ingredients were traceable and sustainably sourced, compared with just under half today, and that 70 per cent of its packaging did not come from fossil fuels, compared with 30 per cent today, the report pointed out. But the group now has more competition from more upmarket ethical brands such as Dr Hauschka and Chantecaille, as well as the British rivals Lush and Neal's Yard. L'Oreal owns a plethora of international brands, including Garnier and Maybelline.