PARIS: The world's largest cosmetics company L'Oréal plans a major international expansion of UK-listed The Body Shop, bought by the French giant in March for £652 million ($1.23bn; €964.9m).

L'Oréal ceo Jean-Paul Agon believes the international store network has the potential to better than double its size in a few years.

"This brand has a worldwide potential. It is already in more than fifty countries and 2,000 stores but in a few years from now it could be in 100 countries and 5,000 stores."

Body Shop is currently looking at the Chinese market, after having recently launched in India. Brazil, Argentina and Chile are also seen as potential markets for the brand.

Inevitably, ethical issues - especially the testing of cosmetics on animals - were raised in Agon's interview with the Financial Times.

"The big ambition . . . is to make animal testing disappear completely and forever in the beauty industry. And we absolutely share this vision with [Body Shop founder] Anita Roddick and The Body Shop.

"Except that our way to achieve it is not to say that we are going to be out of the categories that require [animal testing] today but [that] we are investing like crazy on alternative methods for the future."

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff