This case is about the issue of sustainability rhetoric and greenwashing. In March 2006, The Body Shop International Plc. (Body Shop), a retailer of natural-based and ethically-sourced beauty products, announced that it had agreed to an acquisition by the beauty care giant L’Oréal in a cash deal worth £652 million (US$ 1.14 billion). The announcement brought in its wake a spate of criticism against Body Shop and its founder, Dame Anita Roddick. Body Shop was regarded as a pioneer in modern corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices.
The company was also strongly associated with Roddick’s social activism. This case discusses the reactions of consumers, activists, and CSR experts to the acquisition of Body Shop by L’Oréal. The acquisition throws up some questions such as: Is Body Shop guilty of greenwashing? Does it have the influence to extend its values to L’Oréal? The case also looks into the issue of whether L’Oréal was trying to improve its own image and to buy CSR through this deal.