Strategic Plan for GNC

Table of Content

General Nutrition Companies Inc. (GNCC) was established 65 years ago in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by David Shakirian. The company’s goal was to empower Americans to take charge of their health and well-being. In 1935, Lackzoom, a small health food store offering items such as yogurt, honey, grains, and nutritious sandwiches, marked the beginning of GNCC.

The belief that being a health store and offering health food was just a temporary fad was proven wrong when Lackzoom gained widespread acceptance. Despite doubts from skeptics, David and his store made impressive advancements, starting with earning only 35 dollars on the first day to eventually opening a second store within six months. Since then, Lackzoom, now recognized as GNC, has grown exponentially and is presently the biggest manufacturer of vitamins and mineral supplements in the United States (1998 Annual Report).

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

General Nutrition Companies, Inc., and its subsidiaries are the only nationwide retailer that specializes in selling vitamin and mineral supplements, sports nutrition products, herbs, personal care items, and other health-related products. In total, there are 3,757 General Nutrition Centers where these items are available for purchase. The company owns and operates 2,531 of these centers while the remaining 1,226 are franchised outlets. GNC has experienced significant growth over the past seven years. Starting from 1992 when the company opened or acquired 2,593 new stores across the United States (SEC 10k form).

Initially, the company experienced growth by opening company-owned stores in regional malls. However, in recent years, many of the newly established stores have become franchises. This franchising initiative has allowed GNC to expand into secondary locations and international markets. The growth of GNC seems to be limitless. During a Franchising meeting on February 6, 1999, GNC awarded and agreed upon opening an additional 323 domestic and 428 international franchise locations. All of these stores are accountable to GNC’s headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Additionally, Pittsburgh is where one of General Nutrition’s three distribution centers is located.

The company has distribution centers in Atlanta and Phoenix, which are two of their other locations. These centers distribute products that are produced in Greenville, South Carolina. The facility in Greenville is known as one of the largest and most advanced vitamin and supplement manufacturing facilities in the United States.

In addition, a new manufacturing plant and distribution center will soon open in Anderson, SC with a size of 600,000 sq.ft., effectively doubling the company’s capacity (source:

The company operates top-notch distribution centers to distribute a variety of products. These products encompass vitamin and mineral supplements, herbs, diet products, food products, personal care items, and miscellaneous health care products. They are marketed under different proprietary brand names like Ultra Mega, GNC, Pro Performance, Preventive Nutrition, and Harvest of Nature.

Over the past five years, the company has achieved remarkable growth. Alongside its own successful and value-enhancing offerings like vitamin and mineral supplements, sports nutrition, and herbal products, GNC also offers third-party branded products such as Weider, Twin Lab, EAS, and Met-Rx.

In 1998, net revenue increased to $1.4 billion, representing a notable growth of 18.8% compared to the previous year. This impressive expansion can mainly be credited to the prosperous store expansion program and an increase in product demand across all business segments. To cater to the expanding digital market, was launched as an online platform for selling products through the Internet. Even though it is still in its initial phase, the Company projected that sales would rise due to the continuous growth of the Internet.

GNC has demonstrated its ability to effectively plan and execute, as evidenced by its track record. As we approach the next millennium, it is crucial for the Company to actively monitor its surroundings for potential opportunities and threats. One of GNC’s main challenges is external risks. In recent years, consumer behavior has shifted towards adopting healthier lifestyles, resulting in significant growth in the health product and supplement market. GNC faces various external threats such as new competitors emerging, competition from similar products and services, advancements in technology, government regulations, higher customer expectations, prevailing economic conditions, and varying cultural norms in different host countries.

GNC faces new competition from online and mail order companies like and the Vitamin Shoppe. These companies have entered the vitamin and supplement market, taking some of GNC’s sales by offering alternative purchasing options. Online and mail order companies often provide discounted prices by buying products in bulk.

A new competitor, Vitamin World, has emerged in small regions across the United States. These shops offer a similar product line, except for General Nutrition’s exclusive products. Alongside Vitamin World, other small chains such as Great Earth and Vitamin Specialty of New York have also been established. These stores pose a greater threat to GNC’s corporate stores rather than their franchises due to the personalized service they offer. Additionally, franchise stores have more flexibility in determining the final price as well as any discounts or specials.

Despite the new competitors and their potential threat, the Company has managed to maintain or even grow its market share in multiple markets. GNC specializes in producing and marketing a range of supplements, vitamins, minerals, and health foods under different brand names such as Preventative Nutrition, GNC, and Pro Performance. These product lines are exclusively available at GNC stores and their official online platform.

Aside from their own product lines, GNC stores also stock a range of products from third-party vendors, namely EAS (Experimental and Applied Sciences), Twinlab, Met-Rx, and Metaform. These vendors are all highly successful in terms of sales for their main product. To stay competitive, GNC should invest in making their own products more appealing to customers. Additionally, since competing products from these third-party vendors are available at other stores, GNC must not only compete within their own stores but also in the wider market.

The internet poses a challenge for companies lacking familiarity with advanced technology and sufficient resources to keep up. It serves as both an advertising platform and an online ordering system. This shift towards online orders requires careful evaluation and adaptation throughout the supply chain. It is essential to analyze and address any potential disruptions in manufacturing, supply, distribution, and information flow caused by this transition. The traditional method of supplying products to retail centers will inevitably experience changes.

Government regulations pose a major threat to the company. Compliance with FDA regulations and product testing for all items may be required, which will result in higher production costs and ultimately lead to higher consumer prices. Furthermore, if these regulations are enforced, certain sport and diet supplements currently provided by the company may become illegal in the near future. This could reduce the range of products available and potentially decrease the customer base.

The company’s products are experiencing a growing demand as more Americans adopt healthier lifestyles. This is demonstrated by the fact that 45% of adult Americans depend on supplements in some capacity. Presently, these supplements are expected to compensate for the efforts individuals would otherwise have to make. Moreover, customers desire a company that offers exceptional customer service and well-informed sales associates.

The average American’s income is currently at a peak due to the prosperous economy. However, any negative event that affects the economy would likely lead to a decrease in their disposable income. This reduction in disposable income would consequently impact their willingness and ability to purchase products from GNC.

GNC conducts its international business through franchising, but the approach varies from domestic franchising. In international franchising, the franchisee obtains rights for the entire country rather than just one store. The franchisee is also accountable for complying with government regulations and cultural preferences without significant guidance from the corporation’s headquarters. This absence of support and directives may potentially discourage business in that specific country.

At present, the company is not concerned about the availability of raw materials as they possess ample resources and established supplier contracts. Nonetheless, with the entrance of more competitors in the market down the line, there may arise a potential shortage of certain raw materials and components.

General Nutrition has been a leading force in the nutrition industry and will remain so in the foreseeable future. Their success is attributed to their effective utilization of external opportunities. In the late 1980s, physical activity levels among average Americans had reached an unprecedented low. Nevertheless, the 1990s saw the emergence of a new trend towards adopting healthier lifestyles.

During this time, GNC was highly desired by customers who wanted assistance in maintaining their overall well-being. GNC took advantage of this chance through various approaches aimed at transforming customers’ conventional perceptions and choices regarding General Nutrition stores and merchandise. Furthermore, they expanded their promotional endeavors to connect with a broader range of people and invested in knowledgeable personnel who were extensively knowledgeable about the assortment of products on offer. Consequently, GNC evolved into an all-encompassing destination for individuals from diverse backgrounds, including young athletes as well as middle-aged mothers with children. This strategic transformation also resulted in the development of fresh market segments for their products.

Among the successful initiatives are the pro-performance line, catering to athletes, and the live well concept, promoting a healthy lifestyle suitable for the average adult. With changing customer preferences, GNC has the chance to grow its market share by fostering customer loyalty and trust through innovative products. General Nutrition has effectively capitalized on these opportunities, but to stay ahead of competitors, they must persistently refine and analyze their business strategy.

General Nutrition’s partnership and long-term agreement with Rite Aid presents a major external opportunity. This collaboration not only led to the creation of 697 stores in 1998, but also offered GNC new ways to advertise their supplements. Despite the fact that the average American is within five miles of a GNC store, there continues to be high demand for these stores. As a result, GNC plans to open another 250 stores in the upcoming year.

Both GNC’s franchise success and its pursuit of franchise opportunities have contributed to its achievements over the past decade. The company can expand its franchising capabilities without negatively impacting current stores in order to take advantage of external prospects and maintain its leading position in the health food sector.

GNC’s unparalleled use of technology in the nutrition industry has established and will maintain their global leadership. Particularly, their manufacturing and distribution capabilities set them apart. In a major advancement, GNC recently constructed a cutting-edge manufacturing facility spanning 630,000 square feet in South Carolina. Additionally, the company achieved a significant merger with Royal Numico, a Dutch pharmaceutical firm, making GNC the largest producer of vitamins and supplements worldwide. This merger provides GNC with exceptional access to world-class research facilities, enabling them to seize tremendous opportunities.

The Company should maximize the potential of its new manufacturing and distribution facilities by optimizing its supply chain. This will improve the overall effectiveness of the Company. Furthermore, forming a strategic partnership with a reputable online drugstore would allow the Company to expand its market presence and venture into e-commerce.

The strength of the company lies in its dedication to delivering high-quality products within the realms of vitamins, minerals, and sports nutrition. These particular products are marketed under the GNC proprietary brand, with a focus on value-added items that generate high profit margins. In addition to vitamins, herbal supplements, and sports supplements, customers have the opportunity to participate in the Gold Card program provided by the company. This program enables stores to expand their product offerings. To enroll as a member, individuals must pay an annual fee of $15 and subsequently receive a 20% discount on all purchases once per month. In 1998, sales from proprietary brands accounted for more than half of overall sales.

The company is known for two key principles: being the sole nationwide specialty retailer offering vitamin, mineral supplements, sports nutrition products, and herbs; and holding a prominent position as the primary provider of personal healthcare products.

Customer service is a crucial factor in the Company’s success. Having highly trained employees with comprehensive knowledge about the entire product line gives the Company an advantage over competitors. This advantage is achieved through a robust employee-training program that ensures knowledgeable and efficient employees. Additionally, the Company’s exceptional reputation is also attributed to its extensive product line, which combines proprietary brands with well-established brand names, surpassing those of competitors.

By meeting company inventory needs and having surplus to sell in the wholesale market, the Company has become the global leader in their industry. Their strong production capabilities are maintained through an emphasis on quality control. This is achieved by subjecting every product to extensive testing from beginning to end until it meets their standard.

The Company’s executive leadership is marked by a notable level of experience. The current president, with 25 years of company experience, and the CEO, with 18 years, exemplify this. The executive vice president has 19 years of experience, and the head of logistics has accumulated 22 years. This extensive experience is reflected in the consistently low turnover ratio of management within the company. Employee turnover primarily occurs in retail store management and part-time sales positions, which led the Company to initiate the franchise program as a measure to minimize turnover.

The Company sought to include strategic partners who would invest in their program. In addition to having strong management leadership, the Company ensures a strong employee base through orientation and hiring kits, which help new employees adapt quickly and become efficient. The Company offers employees benefits such as tuition reimbursement, profit sharing, medical and health benefits, and 401k and stock options. These factors contribute to the sense of belonging for GNC employees as part of a team.

The Company leverages its patents to gain an edge in the market. By securing patents for its unique formulas, vitamins, sports nutrition, and herbal supplements, the Company establishes barriers against competitors. Additionally, the Company collaborates on research with Proctor and Gamble and currently holds a patent with them for a highly absorbent form of calcium called calcium citrate malate.

By closely coordinating various entities, the company achieves cost efficiencies across its entire organization and network of 5,000 retail stores. These entities encompass product suppliers, raw materials, packaging material, store supplies, retail advertising, third-party advertising, insurance coverage, and credit card processing. The diligent monitoring and alignment of these entities enable the company to enhance economies of scale.

The Company’s mission is to prioritize product quality rather than quantity. Every year, the company introduces around 25 to 30 new products and reformulates existing ones. Additionally, an annual reset is carried out in stores to introduce new third-party products from vendors and expand or remove retail shelf space for new company products.

General Nutrition Companies Incorporated is the leading provider of health products, and although it is not averse to taking risks, these risks can be seen as weaknesses. The first risk is the acquisition of GNC by Royal Numico, which now means that GNC has to adapt and become part of a larger company. This integration will require a substantial amount of money, potentially diluting the issuance of equity securities and incurring debt or amortization expenses related to goodwill and other intangible assets. Any of these factors can have a negative impact on the company, including its operating results and financial conditions.

In addition to financial and operational difficulties, the integration of technologies, products, and personnel of the merged company may present challenges. Furthermore, the company is burdened with a leverage problem, as it has obtained a significant portion of its capital through debt financing, including loans. Considering the current level of operations and projected growth, the company’s available cash flow and other sources of liquidity are expected to be sufficient to meet future capital needs. However, there is no guarantee that the company will generate enough cash flow. These uncertainties surrounding our leverage could result in significant consequences.

  1. Our ability to obtain additional financing for working capital, general corporate purposes could be impaired in the future.
  2. A substantial portion of the company’s cash flow from operations will be dedicated to the payment of interest.
  3. Certain number of the company’s borrowings will be at variable rates of interest, which will expose us to the risk of increased interest rates.
  4. The company’s leveraged financial position may make them more vulnerable to general economic conditions such as a downturn or recession.

Despite the challenges of high leverage, the Company is vulnerable to economic conditions in its markets. The overall economic trends, consumer spending levels, and consumer confidence greatly impact the company’s operational outcomes in its main geographic markets. During times of economic slowdown, the company may face decreased sales volumes and declining margins for some products.

The company may encounter product liability claims, which pose a weakness. Being in the nutrition industry, GNC and other manufacturers or distributors of nutritional foods and supplements face the risk of product liability lawsuits if their products cause personal injury. Additionally, the company is susceptible to regulations governing their products.

The company’s operations are regulated by both national and local governmental agencies. These regulations encompass various aspects such as production standards, product quality, trade and pricing practices, labeling, packaging, and advertising. While the company currently considers itself compliant with existing laws, there are potential areas in which future breaches could occur. Ensuring compliance with these regulations will necessitate additional expenses for the company.

The main vulnerability that GNC will confront in the future is the need to safeguard their employees’ intellectual property. Currently, the company depends on various laws like patents, trade secrets, copyrights, and trademarks to protect this intellectual property. However, GNC cannot assure that these measures will be sufficient to prevent competitors from replicating or reverse-engineering their products. If this were to occur, the company would suffer substantial financial losses along with a significant decline in market share.

Cite this page

Strategic Plan for GNC. (2018, Jun 15). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront