Natura’s Journey to Becoming a Global Company

Recognized as the most sustainable company in Latin America, Brazilian cosmetics manufacturer Natura is about to become a global player. It has offered €1 billion to L’Oreal for the acquisition of The Body Shop. The deal, set to be finalized by the end of this year, will solve one of Natura’s biggest challenges: how to scale up faster in the developed markets of Europe and the United States.

Natura’s admiration for The Body Shop began a long time ago. The introductory message from the 2007 Annual Report paid tribute to the founder of the British company, Anita Roddick, who passed away in September of 2007:

“At a time when so many companies are working to protect the planet, we would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to Anita Roddick, the founder of Body Shop, in hopes that the seed she planted will continue to bear fruit. Our two companies, both founded in the 1970s, with separate identities and in different places, remained united in the search for a better world, long before this effort became a marketing tactic for many companies. Anita, who left us with fond memories of her visit to our Cajamar factory in 2002, never deviated from her activism and ethics. For us, as for her, social and corporate responsibility is not a box to tick off but a transforming passion.

While The Body Shop was among those companies that led the adoption of the sustainable development agenda in the corporate world prior to 2000, Natura has been one of the leaders of this century. In 2015, the company was recognized as one of the UNEP Champions of the Earth and also became B Corp. Natura is also part of The B Team, an initiative of global leaders to redefine the role of business. Additionally, on May 30, 2017, Natura celebrated the recertification of its B Corporation status with the event “Dialogues for a New Economy” in São Paulo. The lineup of speakers included Guilherme Leal, one of Natura’s founding partners, Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and co-founder of The B Team, Emmanuelle Wargon, VP, Global Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Danone, and Chris Coulter, co-CEO at GlobeScan, among other executives and entrepreneurs. Watch a short recap of the event below:

Natura has been long recognized as the leader in sustainability in Latin America. According to the 2017 GlobeScan/Sustainability Leaders Survey, Natura is the top-ranked company in the region, ahead of Unilever, which leads in all other continents.
With operations in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Mexico and France, and as the parent company of the premium Australian brand Aesop, Natura is strongly rooted in a direct-sales business model, with 1.8 million sales consultants in Latin America. This model has not been as successful in Europe, and as such Natura has been investing in expanding e-commerce and testing additional retail alternatives. The Body Shop acquisition will be a tremendous boost to the process of entry into the mature markets of Europe and the United States, to become a multichannel and multi-brand company. The Body Shop operates in 66 countries and has more than 3,000 outlets. Its turnover makes it about half the size of Natura. Together they would have net sales of about €3.15bn with 3,200 stores worldwide. With this presence and size, Natura will be no longer be a top-of-mind brand just for sustainability experts, but for consumers the world over.