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By Gabriela Mello
SAO PAULO, March 25 (Reuters) - Brazilian cosmetics group Natura & Co will temporarily convert all of its makeup and fragrances production lines in Latin America to manufacturing personal hygiene items such as hand sanitizer to help combat the spread of the coronavirus, it said in an internal memo seen by Reuters.
Natura, which became the world's fourth-largest beauty products company after acquiring rival Avon Products last year, also committed to not dismissing any employees for 60 days, while freezing salaries and promotions for an equal period.
Hirings will be limited to critical job positions, it added.
"Proceeding with production is essential for our consultants and resellers to keep earning income from their activity, especially in this time of crisis," the company said in the memo.
Natura & Co's efforts are part of a global trend of private sector firms stepping up to help in the battle against COVID-19, the rapidly spreading respiratory illness caused by the virus that has decimated markets and pushed governments to take extreme measures to try and control the outbreak.
On Tuesday, Latin America's largest brewer Ambev SA announced it would convert one of its breweries in Rio de Janeiro state to produce hand sanitizer.
Widely recognized for its environmental-friendly policies, Natura & Co has closed all of its Natura, Aesop and The Body Shop brick-and-mortar stores, as well as franchisees in Brazil.
It was not immediately clear how long the company will keep its makeup and fragrances production lines dedicated to hygiene items. It said current inventories should be enough to honor ongoing orders.
Shares in Natura were up 2% on Wednesday at 25.41 reais, reducing losses in March to 44%. (Reporting by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Christian Plumb and Bill Berkrot)