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GNC sales have been declining for years now and it it may be the end of the road for this pioneer.

GNC needs a protein shake

GNC logoGeneral Nutrition Centers ("GNC") forged the path for franchised health supplement stores. It was a nice run but I believe it is near the end of the road for GNC. The industry is saturated with newer, flashier and larger stores like the Vitamin Shoppe and Vitamin World.

GNC SmoothieFor example, in Chicago in the Lincoln Park area at the corner of Diversey Pkwy and Clark Ave, a beautiful large Vitamin Shoppe opened up across the street from the tiny, more expensive GNC. Also, Sherwyn’s, a large health food store, opened up within a block of the GNC. The every evolving competition is slowly finding the formula that will eventually beat out GNC’s small competitive advantages.

This article (from 2003) explains how GNC sales dropped 10% in 2003, which led Royal Numico, a leading Dutch baby food maker, to sell GNC to private equity firm Apollo Advisors. It looks like the sale didn’t help, 4th quarter sales droped 12% from the same quarter last year.

Will GNC’s new smoothies help stop the bleeding? I doubt it.

About Ryan Knoll

Attorney and advisor with an interest in franchising. Feel free to email me comments and questions on the "Contact Us" page.


  1. I buy all my viatmins and herb stuff at Walgreens. Some of my friends who workout by stuff at GNC, but most either by online or at Publix.

  2. Where are these smoothie bars? I haven’t seen any? The Vitamin Shoppe and Vitamin World are corporate owned. I would like to open a health food/GNC type store, but it looks like that opportunity is closed now unless something really innovative comes along.

  3. I haven’t seen any smoothie bars either. GNC should give out sample of protein shakes so people can try them. They should have every powdery product available for sample, that would bring people in.

  4. I work at GNC and I can tell you that this company has PROBLEMS! The Franchise’s make the $$. The corporate stores lose $$ like crazy because the managers & employees have nothing at stake.
    GNC has the #1 Multi-Vitiman and great quality controlled herbs and minerals, but honestly, the sports section sux! I work there & I refuse to use the Protiens, Creatines, or anything else “properformance” makes. I see better results from other companies that we Franchise’s are allowed to carry (but barely). GNC corp. has aweful franchise relations too. They are always in law suits with one another. If you were thinking about this company to buy or invest in, you would be better off to buy the realestate out from under it. Of course, my opinion is shaded by my view as a franchise employee, but they are still losing money! They have to do SOMETHING and QUICK! I’m quiting soon myself! Good Luck GNC!

  5. I am a former GNC franchisee. GNC is a completely evil company that seeks to steal money any way they can. Be it from the customer or in most cases, the franchisee. If they rip off the customer, big deal! What’s the worst that happens? Maybe you are overcharged 2 or 3 dollars on an item that should be priced lower. But with the franchisees, they are stealing their stores, stealing their livelihoods, and destroying their lives. This company is pure evil and I personally do my vitamin shopping at my local mom and pop health food store. GNC can kiss my rear and I look forward to the day that I read in the Wall Street Journal about GNC’s impending Chapter Eleven bankruptcy proceedings and their liquidation sale. This is a company that should no longer be in business. They steal money, steal businesses, and ruin lives.

  6. I just quit gnc today after 14 yrs. as a manager. They are absolutely the worst company I have ever seen as far as being good to their employees. Employees donot matter, are treated terribly even after yrs of service. The only reason customers matter are because they have the wallet. In my area, I have seen many tenured managers harrassed out the the company. They make you insane from harrassment so you quit. They dont have to pay unemployment that way. Now all I see are 22 yr old managers replacing experienced ones. I will certainly never spend a dime in a gnc. I was not fired by the way, nor was I guilty of ANY wrongdoing. This isnt sour grapes, it just anger and being forced out of a company I have worked like a dog for. They worry so much about what “the customer” will say to others about gnc, when really, just TRY to find a former gnc employee with a kind word to say.

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