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Saturday, March 18, 2006

FEATURE: L'Oreal & The Bodyshop to wed

Oh my this will create quite the storm won't it. So many issues. Here are my thoughts.

Personally I think we are going to see more deals like this although perhaps this will hold the 'largest deal' record for some time. Lots of green consolidation ahead. Mostly small scale stuff I imagine.

Question is whose next? Marks & Spencers to buy PeopleTree? By the way Safia Minney now has her own blog - welcome to blogging Safia. Powergen to buy SolarCentury? Coca-Cola to buy Santa Cruz Organic?

Anita Roddick is not a sell out. Well no more than any person part of a capitalist economy. Anita has said she will be giving away most of the money. She is certainly wealthy enough and hardly did this deal for the money. So how exactly is she selling out?

Anita Roddick has done so much to project ethical business practices into the mainstream spotlight. If you are one of those who condemn Anita for 'selling out' you need to get over your big bad green self. Being green is not that black and white.

The only people who should feel comfortable condemning her are those who have done more to make this world greener and fairer. And that is a very short list. And to be are probably not on it.

Why was this deal done? L'Oreal have bought a successful green retail brand to distribute and market green cosmetics on a scale that the Bodyshop could never have hoped for. That is a good thing.

L'Oreal see which way the wind is blowing re people and chemicals and will almost certainly look to learn from the Bodyshop and evolve their own business onto a greener platform over time. That is a good thing.

L'Oreal certainly cannot weaken the Bodyshop's ethics but do not underestimate the potential for the Bodyshop to shore up and strengthen L'Oreals less than green position. That is a good thing.

Nestle apparently own 26% of L'Oreal which makes the sale of the Bodyshop to L'Oreal even more difficult to digest for some. Let me be clear about why I think Nestle are buying into or launching green brands. I believe they are doing so not to attract customers who are already ethical consumers or on that path. They know 'we' know who they are and what their company has stood for over the years.

I believe that Nestle buy into or launch green brands to cater for those amongst their millions of mainstream customers who are starting to exhibit ethical consumer tendencies. That is very telling in itself. They are changing tack because they see the wind changing.

As those customers become more aware of ethical issues Nestle's stock can only suffer once their sordid history surfaces. Nestle are fighting a losing battle akin to those of the Tobacco companies and the Oil companies. They all have one think in common: they are making hay whilst the sun shines.

Just for a moment imagine in ten years a Nestle making money primarily from ethical sources. How would that be a bad thing?

For me the issue is more about someone with green ideals gaining power. More power in the hands of greens can only be a good thing.

And just imagine all the good Anita is gonna be able to do with an extra £120 (approx) million behind her. I get the feeling we ain't seen nothing yet. Go Anita!



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