Tributes to The Body Shop's founder Anita Roddick

LONDON, Sept 11, 2007 (AFP) -Tributes flooded in Tuesday, september 12th for Anita Roddick, the British founder of The Body Shop cosmetics chain and "queen of green" who has died at the age of 64 after a major brain haemorrhage.

Roddick pioneered environmentally-friendly and ethical business practices and was also a philanthropist who said in 2005 that she wanted to give away her entire 51-million-pound (75-million-euro, 103-million-dollar) fortune.

She died in hospital in Chichester, southern England, Monday night with her husband Gordon and two daughters by her side after collapsing with a sudden headache, her family said in a statement.

Her death came after she announced in February that she had contracted Hepatitis C through a blood transfusion during the birth of her youngest daughter in 1971 and lived with the condition for years without realising.

Roddick is best known as the driving force behind The Body Shop, a highly successful international chain set up in 1976 which sells fair trade and environmentally-friendly beauty products.

The shop was also an early pioneer of recycling: customers were encouraged to bring empty containers back to the store for refills.

The Body Shop, which has over 2,000 stores in more than 50 countries, was bought by French cosmetics firm L'Oreal last year for 652 million pounds.

Some campaigners were shocked by the decision to sell to a major corporation, but Roddick said she was confident she could be a "Trojan horse" by taking The Body Shop's principles to L'Oreal.

Roddick was also known as a hard-working campaigner for environmental, human rights and health causes.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown led the tributes, saying he was "deeply saddened" to hear of her death.

"She will be remembered not only as a great campaigner but also as a great entrepreneur," he said in a statement.

"As one of this country's most successful businesswomen, she was an inspiration to women throughout the country striving to set up and grow their own companies."

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace and a personal friend of Roddick, said that the Body Shop's green principles had blazed a trail for the eco-friendly ethos which major companies routinely embrace today.

"She was so ahead of her time when it came to issues of how business could be done in different ways, not just profit motivated but taking into account environmental issues," he said.

"When you look at it today, and how every company claims to be green, she was living this decades ago."

And Amnesty International's United Kingdom director Kate Allen added: "Anita Roddick's passion for human rights was immeasurable and we have lost a true champion of the oppressed and persecuted."

Britain's Independent newspaper described her as a "capitalist with a conscience", while The Sun tabloid and other papers dubbed her the "queen of green".

Roddick, a one-time teacher whose parents were Italian immigrants, was made a dame by Queen Elizabeth II in recogition of her achievements in 2003.

She modestly played down her success, once saying that she had only started The Body Shop "to create a livelihood for myself and my daughters while Gordon was trekking across the Americas" and describing it as "a series of brilliant accidents".

Announcing earlier this year that she had contracted Hepatitis C, she said: "It's a bit of a bummer but you groan and move on."

by Katherine Haddon

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