Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Roddick, Anita
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English entrepreneur, and founder of the Body Shop which by 2000 had around 1,500 branches worldwide. Roddick started with a single shop in 1976, selling only natural toiletries which were not tested on animals and sold with minimal packaging. She campaigned on environmental issues and was an advocate of ‘caring capitalism’ and fair trade.

Roddick opened the first Body Shop in Brighton in 1976, and starting granting franchises for the business in 1977. The first international franchise was granted in Belgium in 1978. She was named London's Business Woman of the Year in 1985, awarded an OBE and nominated Communicator of the Year in 1988, and nominated Retailer of the Year and received the United Nations' Global 500 environmental award in 1989. In 1990 she established The Body Shop Foundation, which awards grants for human and animal rights and environmental protection. Her foundation launched the Big Issue newspaper for the homeless in 1992 in the UK and in Los Angeles in 1998. She stepped down as chief executive in 1998, because of company restructuring, but remained co-chair with her husband, holding a £33 million stake in the business.

Roddick was born into an Italian immigrant family in Littlehampton, East Sussex, England. Having initially trained as a teacher at Newton Park College of Education in Bath, she then worked for the International Herald Tribune newspaper in Paris, France, and, after a short spell of teaching in England, for the United Nations as a women's rights researcher in Geneva. She then travelled extensively before returning to the UK, where she married Gordon Roddick in 1971. They opened a small hotel and restaurant.

Using the hotel business as collateral for a loan for her first shop, she marketed 15 cosmetic products developed in her garage, in refillable plastic bottles with hand-written labels. After the successful opening of a second shop in Chichester, the Roddicks granted the first of many shop franchises in 1977.

Increasingly they gained publicity by campaigning for social and environmental reform (supporting, for example, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and Friends of the Earth), using dramatic imagery in their company advertising. The work of the Body Shop Foundation includes the Brazilian Healthcare project, providing medical care and education for Amazonian villages, and Children On the Edge, which renovates orphanages for abandoned Romanian children. In 1999 it also provided aid for Kosovan refugees.

She published her autobiography, Body and Soul, in 1991, and was reported to be the fifth richest woman in Britain in 1993. In 1997, to celebrate 21 years in the business, she launched a new flagship store which won the Retail Week Store Design of the Year award. She was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2003.


Roddick, Anita

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles

Full text Article Roddick, Anita born Perilli; (1942 - )
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

Her shops supply natural cosmetics and toiletries with an emphasis on care for the environment. ...

Full text Article Anita Roddick
BUSINESS: The Ultimate Resource

Anita Roddick, the British businesswoman and founder of the cosmetics phenomenon The Body Shop, might never have started her business at all. It was

Full text Article Roddick, Anita
Capstone Encyclopaedia of Business

Born in Sussex in 1942, Anita Roddick was brought up in the sleepy coastal town of Littlehampton, where her parents ran an...

See more from Credo