Dame Anita Roddick dies aged 64

It is with great sadness we report that the Body Shop founder has passed away

It was great sadness that Startups.co.uk reports that Dame Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, has died aged 64.

One of the UK’s most inspirational and much-loved entrepreneurs suffered “a major brain haemorrhage” at 1830 BST at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, West Sussex, a statement from the Roddick family has confirmed.

Dame Anita revealed two years ago that she was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver after contracting Hepatitis C from blood given during the birth of her youngest daughter, Sam. It is unknown if the cause of her death is connected.

A groundbreaking social entrepreneur

Dame Anita set up the first Body Shop in Brighton in 1976, expanding it to a global brand and public company worth £700m at its peak. Yet it is Dame Anita’s unwavering commitment and passion for operating the business in an outwardly ethical and socially conscious manner that she will be best remembered.

A pioneer of social responsibility in business, the Body Shop proved more than any business before – or arguably since – an ethical approach to business needn’t come at the expense of profitability. Dame Anita led the way in sourcing and marketing ethically and was a groundbreaking campaigner and instigator of employee rights and working practices that are now common place. She famously said: “We searched for employees and people turned up.”

The company’s website carried the following message from Roddick: “Businesses have the power to do good. That’s why The Body Shop’s Mission Statement opens with the overriding commitment: ‘To dedicate our business to the pursuit of social and environmental change.'”

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After selling the business to L’Oreal Dame Anita spent much of her time extolling the virtues of social enterprise and was also a fervent campaigner of human and environmental rights. She worked with and supported a number of charities and orgnisations including Amnesty International and AIDS and HIV charity Body & Soul.

In 2003, Anita became a Dame and told Startups.co.uk: “I was awarded this honour for retailing, the environment and charity, but for me it is all about my unflinching concern for justice – be it trade, social and/or human rights – in all its aspects.

“This is my life’s work. I hope this honour opens the path to allow me to be more radical.”

PM pays tribute

Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid tribute to Dame Anita, calling her “one of the country’s true pioneers” and an “inspiration” to businesswomen.

He said: “She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market.

“She will be remembered not only as a great campaigner but also as a great entrepreneur.”

An inspiration for Startups readers 

As part of Startups.co.uk’s recent redesign we added a series of videos just last week of Dame Anita Roddick exuding the passion and beliefs we’ll remember her so fondly for at a British Library talk earlier this year.

Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, said: “Dame Anita Roddick redefined what it meant to be an entrepreneur, a woman in the world of business and a campaigner on a host of issues. We at the British Library are immensely proud to have enjoyed her support, and to have benefited from her boundless energy, expertise and her ability to inspire.

“It was a privilege to witness her offering guidance and inspiration to the latest generation of entrepreneurs. Her unique and energising presence will be sadly missed.”

After long consideration we’ve decided to keep these videos on the site so that Dame Anita continues to provide the inspiration, insight and guidance in death that she undoubtedly offered in her truly incredible life. The videos of Dame Anita’s talks at the Library can be found here: http://www.startups.co.uk/6678842911010134644/anita-roddick-the-body-shop.html

If you, our readers, think this decision is incorrect, please email me and I’ll immediately review the decision. matthewt@crimsonbusiness.co.uk



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