The private equity owner of The Body Shop has placed the UK chain into administration just three months after buying it.

German investment group Aurelius, which purchased The Body Shop’s global business for £207m in November, confirmed today it had placed its UK arm into administration, appointing FRP Advisory.

The group confirmed that Tony Wright, Geoff Rowley and Alastair Massey of FRP had been appointed as joint administrators of The Body Shop International Limited.

In a statement, FRP said it would continue to trade the business while “all options” for a way forward were explored.

FRP said the administration process “provides the stability, flexibility and security to find the best means of securing the future of The Body Shop and revitalising this iconic British brand”.

It stated: “The joint administrators will now consider all options to find a way forward for the business and will update creditors and employees in due course.

“The Body Shop remains guided by its ambition to be a modern, dynamic beauty brand, relevant to customers and able to compete for the long term. Creating a more nimble and financially stable UK business is an important step in achieving this.

“The joint administrators will continue to trade the business in administration, ensuring customers will be able to continue to shop in store and online for their favourite products.

“The Body Shop has faced an extended period of financial challenges under past owners, coinciding with a difficult trading environment for the wider retail sector.

“Having taken swift action in the last month, including closing down The Body Shop At Home and selling its business across most of Europe and in parts of Asia, focusing on the UK business is the next important step in The Body Shop’s restructuring.”

Brazilian cosmetics company Natura agreed to sell The Body Shop to Aurelius in a cut-price deal last year after struggling to improve trading at the chain.

The £207m deal valued the retailer at £660m less than Natura bought it for in 2017 when it acquired it from L’Oréal.

L’Oréal itself had bought The Body Shop from its founder Anita Roddick for £652m in 2006.

Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The Body Shop has failed to scrub out a sales decline, with damp revenues during the crucial festive period pushing an icon of eco-beauty into an unwelcome position.

“The Body Shop’s sale to L’Oréal in 2006 attracted significant criticism at the time, and did indeed prove to be the start of a slow decline for the once unique bath and beauty store. Anita Roddick was a visionary, offering refills to cut down on plastic decades ago, but that policy was quietly shelved in the ’90s to refocus on packaged gift baskets with refill stations only brought back a few years ago. It seems it was too little too late and the Body Shop brand has been struggling to stand out amid a crowded beauty market.

“The Body Shop’s last owner, private equity firm Aurelius, only bought the company six weeks ago, and now, having unwrapped highly disappointing retail sales, there is not enough working capital for the business to continue in its current form.

“Administration will mean the company is protected from compulsory liquidation and offers legal protection from creditors’ demands. It will give Aurelius breathing space to restructure and close highly underperforming stores and refocus attention on e-commerce sales. Whatever the outcome, it looks likely that many shops will shut for good, opening up fresh holes in high streets across the UK.”