General 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.
For 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.