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The Body Shop at Ashford’s County Square shopping centre shuts today – as half of brand’s stores to close

The Body Shop is to close half of its stores – with a Kent branch among seven shutting today.

The store in Ashford’s County Square shopping centre has already closed for good.

The Body Shop in Ashford's County Square has shut
The Body Shop in Ashford's County Square has shut

A notice in the window of the branch says: “Sadly our store is now closed.

“Thank you for all your love – it’s meant a lot.

“Please continue to support our business on our website or at your nearest store.”

The other stores closing today are four branches in London, as well as one in Warwickshire and one in Bristol.

Shoppers in Ashford have told of their sadness after seeing The Body Shop leave County Square, but some say it was not a surprise.

June Picton, 75, said she felt the brand was too expensive.

“I’m not surprised because I think their products are just too expensive,” she said.

“It’s all to do with prices and I think the rents.

“If people were buying the products, the shop would still be open - whichever shop you talk about, and if they’re not buying the products, why aren’t they? Probably because they’re too expensive.

June Picton, 75, said she was not surprised to find out The Body Shop was closing
June Picton, 75, said she was not surprised to find out The Body Shop was closing

“County Square is quite often empty simply because there’s no footfall and there are no decent shops. It doesn’t surprise me at all that they’ve closed.”

Another shopper, Liz, said it is really sad to see The Body Shop close.

“I did shop there a little bit but I think it’s aimed at the young people,” she said.

“It’s just a sign of the times that we live in now - all the shops seem to be going one by one and it’s just another one bites the dust.

“I think it’s down to the current climate that everyone can get so much online.

Liz said it's really sad to see the shop in County Square Shopping Centre close
Liz said it's really sad to see the shop in County Square Shopping Centre close

“I don’t think Ashford is unique enough but it’s happening in most towns, there are none that are really thriving.

“County Square is a really nice shopping centre though.”

Sue, from Kingsnorth, added it is sad to see another empty space in the shopping centre.

“It’s not an experience to come into town now – the parking is too much and puts people off but I think the rents are also too high,” she said.

“County Square is a nice place to be but I think as more shops close down people think to go to other towns.

“The Body Shop is quite niche but you can get the things they sell elsewhere in Superdrug and Boots.

“It’s just sad to see everything shutting down. I think if the rents were lower it would make a big difference.”

A notice in the shop window
A notice in the shop window

A spokesman for County Square added: “In previous decades, The Body Shop was at the forefront of ethical and cruelty free product trade.

“Unfortunately with competition, various changes in ownership and the usual cost pressures in recent years, the stores had lost some of the appeal and therefore customers.

“We will be sad to see the County Square store close and will be monitoring the administration process as well as looking at finding a suitable replacement tenant. Occupancy in Phase 1 of the centre remains strong and a number of existing tenants are renewing their leases so we remain confident visitor numbers to County Square will continue to pick up.”

The Body Shop has about 200 stores in the UK and employs more than 2,000 people, including 750 at its head office.

Today’s announcement comes after the firm announced it was going into administration last week.

Administrators said that the brand's current portfolio is no longer viable after "years of unprofitability".

The Body Shop has a total of eight stores across the county.

The Kent locations include two in Ashford, one at Greenhithe’s Bluewater Shopping Centre, one at Hempstead Valley in Gillingham, one in Canterbury, one in Maidstone, one in Tunbridge Wells and one at Westwood Cross Shopping Centre in Thanet.

The other Ashford store at the Designer Outlet remains open as usual.

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