South Korean giant CJ ponders buying The Body Shop from L'Oreal
One of South Korea's biggest companies is weighing up a bid for The Body Shop chain.
Food-to-entertainment giant CJ said it was mulling over an approach, but had not yet decided whether to make a formal offer.
French cosmetics group L'Oreal put The Body Shop on the sale block in February, more than 10 years after snapping up the ethical skincare brand.
It said at the time that it was "exploring all strategic options" regarding its ownership of the firm which was founded by Dame Anita Roddick in 1976.
L'Oreal is believed to have put a 1 billion euro (£859 million) price tag on the chain.
A raft of private equity firms are said to be eyeing bids ahead of a mid-April deadline.
The sale comes after The Body Shop has suffered sliding sales, with its most recent update showing a lacklustre performance in Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong continuing to dog the firm.
Sales at the brand sank 5% to 920.8 million euros (£784.2 million) in 2016, down from 967.2 million euros (£823.7 million) in the year to the end of December.
But L'Oreal said in February that The Body Shop's "momentum was good" in Europe - especially in the UK - and across Latin America thanks to a new operation in Chile.
Dame Anita and her husband banked around £117 million from their 18% stake in the business when they backed the board's decision to push through a £652.3 million sale to L'Oreal in March 2006.
The Roddicks started The Body Shop in 1976 to help support their two young daughters, Justine and Samantha.
The company has 3,000 stores in 66 countries, employing around 22,000 people.