The Body Shop is set to shut nearly half of its 198 UK shops, with three Hertfordshire sites at risk after the cosmetics chain fell into administration last week.

Hundreds of members of staff could lose their jobs, with around 270 head office jobs to be cut as part of a heavy restructuring.

Administrators for the business said seven of its shops will shut their doors for good on Tuesday, with the closures of sites at Surrey Quays London, Oxford Street London, Canary Wharf London, Cheapside London, Nuneaton, Ashford in Kent and Queens Road in Bristol.

The group’s other stores will continue to trade until further updates from insolvency experts overseeing the process.

Herts stores in St Albans, Atria Watford, and an outlet store at The Galleria in Hatfield could be among those at risk of shutting down.

The Body Shop was founded in Brighton in 1976 by Anita Roddick, an environmental campaigner, activist and entrepreneur who owned the business for 30 years until selling it to L’Oréal in 2006.

By this time, the retailer had become synonymous with its ethical beliefs, including a refusal to stock products tested on animals and a sourcing natural ingredients, but the £652 million deal came under criticism as it was seen as a departure from company values.

The cosmetics retailer was bought by private equity firm Aurelius last year, but reports claim that trading over the key Christmas period and January was not as strong as first hoped.