Body Shop shows it's a party animal

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The Independent Online

The Body Shop, the ethical cosmetics retailer, is to recruit 7,000 "party consultants" in a bid to sell more of its olive body butter and marmalade scrubs to people at home.

Anita Roddick's group, which has faced criticism for not being commercially orientated enough and whose pre-tax profits this year have dropped from £31.5m to £25m, already has 3,000 consultants selling products in the tradition of Tupperware and Ann Summers parties. It hopes to raise that number to 7,000 by Christmas and 10,000 by 2004.

"The more self-employed consultants that are recruited, the more home parties there will be and our sales will continue to grow," said a Body Shop spokesperson. The group's Direct home-shopping business, which sells products through the parties held by its consultants, is expected to reach sales of £50m over the next three years.

The division recorded sales of £20m last year, achieved through 100,000 home parties hosted by a sales force of 1,800.

The Littlehampton firm operates the scheme throughout the country and has recently launched it in Ireland.

Body Shop says the consultants, who work on commission, have to make the brand come alive for customers and to "tell the stories behind the products".

The most successful consultant is expected to earn about £40,000 this year, says Bernie Foster, Body Shop's managing director for the UK and Ireland.