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Canadian entrepreneur considers rescue bid for The Body Shop: report

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Doug Putman, the Canadian businessman who bought HMV out of administration, is exploring a rescue bid for The Body Shop International Ltd., the U.K.-based news outlet The Telegraph reported.

Putman has contacted The Body Shop’s administrators, FRP Advisory, to express an interest but has yet to make a formal bid, the newspaper said on Saturday.

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It comes as the cosmetics retailer prepares to close almost half of its 198 stores in the United Kingdome, including its flagship on London’s Oxford Street, resulting in almost 500 workers being made redundant after its British operations fell into insolvency last month.

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Meanwhile, The Body Shop is also under investigation for allegedly taking millions of pounds from the company ahead of its insolvency.

Any purchase by Putman could face competition from private equity firm Aurelius Capital Management. The private equity firm placed The Body Shop in administration just weeks after buying it from Brazilian conglomerate Natura & Co. in a deal that valued the retailer at £207 million (US$262 million).

Putman, who also owns Sunrise Records and Toys ‘R’ Us in Canada, bought HMV in 2019 for £883,000. Under his turnaround, the music retailer has returned to profit and last year reopened its site on Oxford Street.

The serial entrepreneur also saw an opportunity when retailer Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. declared bankrupty.

Putnam took over roughly a third of the now-defunct retailer’s Canadian brick-and-mortar sites reopening 24 locations under the banner rooms + spaces (lack of capitals intended) in the second half of 2023.

“We want to take what was good about Bed Bath but we want to make it even better,” Putman said when he announced he was taking over the locations. “They were great for a time and lost their way.”

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Rooms + spaces has locations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

— with files from Financial Post

Bloomberg.com

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