MORE than half of Lush’s staff in Poole are EU migrants and many have been left in a “protracted legal limbo” over Brexit, the company says.

Mark Constantine, chief executive and co-founder of the town’s global cosmetics brand, makes the comment in the firm’s annual report accounts.

The accounts reveal Lush’s brand turnover was up 36 per cent to £995million in the 12 months ending last June, while operating profit was up 45 per cent to £22.7m.

Mr Constantine said the prospect of a “hard Brexit” had prompted Lush to accelerate the development of its factory in Dusseldorf, Germany, to supply key markets in mainland Europe.

Last year, Lush announced it was investing in a 52,000sqft factory unit in Poole as a centre for development and innovation.

“Our UK manufacturing facility will continue to supply 17 international markets whilst supporting new product launches and global product development,” Mr Constantine wrote.

He said some of Lush’s Poole staff had moved abroad, and that those who went to Dusseldorf were being offered free German lessons. But more than 50 per cent of Poole staff were migrants from other EU countries.

Lush’s statement of principles, called We Believe, has recently been extended with the words: “We believe that all people should enjoy freedom of movement across the world.”

Mr Constantine wrote: “We were very fortunate in 2006 when the UK decided not to place immigration restrictions on the eight eastern European countries that had just joined the EU; this allowed us to plug labour gaps during our busiest periods and deal with the rapid expansion of the brand that followed.

“Many of these EU migrants became loyal permanent employees and wish to stay in the UK.

“We continue to actively work with and consult with all of our employees, some of which have been left in a protracted legal limbo.”

Lush has 932 shops around the world. Profits in its UK retail business rose by £4.7m on the back of like-for-like sales growth of 12.2 per cent.

North America, which remains its biggest retail market, saw like-for-like sales up 18.2 per cent.

Digital sales were up 17.6 per cent to £32.6million.

Lush committed last year to paying all stuff the independently-set Living Wage, which is currently 95p an hour higher than the government’s National Living Wage. The independently-set wage will rise from April 20 to £8.75 an hour outside London and £10.20 an hour in the capital.

Lush offers six months of fully paid maternity leave and four weeks of paternity leave. It said these incentives would hit its profitability in 2018 but it expected a return on the investment in future years.

The company and its staff raised £13.3m for charity in the year, while sales of its Charity Pot hair and body lotion raised £9.8m in 36 countries, with all the price except the VAT going to good causes.