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GNC Tries To Get It Together With Massive Retail Changes

GNC

Last week, GNC announced plans to close its doors…for one day!

That’s right.  On Decemember 28th, GNC will close its doors—at all corporate locations–while it reinvents itself.  Not to fear, the rebirth of GNC is scheduled to be completed in justd one day, so on December 29th, the new GNC will open it’s doors to the public.

Whether you love GNC or hate GNC this is good news!

Why?  Because it means the sleeping executives at GNC finally woke up from that dream where they continue to sell under-dosed, high margin products and realized the nightmare of a company GNC has turned out to be.

Whenever I discuss the dismal state of GNC with people who don’t follow stocks, they always say something like:

“But GNC is everywhere!  They must be doing good!”

And to that, I usually just pull out my phone, pull up a graph of GNC’s stock performance over the past year or so, and show them this:

GNC Stock Price

The graph above depicts the horrific performance of GNC over the last year.  As you can see, GNC has seen it’s value take a beating at each and every quarterly report.

Much of the reason I love stocks so much is that the price of a stock is a real-time indicator of the value of a company.  There’s not debating it.  The price is the price, voted on (with dollars) by millions of investors all across the world 5 days a week, 9:30am to 4pm (excluding after hours trading).

So when people tell me that GNC “must be doing well because they’re everywhere”, I can show them proof that they’re dead wrong.  You don’t have a to be a financial wizard to understan that all those huge drops in the stock price every quarter are NOT good.  They’re very bad.

Hold on a minute, plenty of companies are misunderstood by Wall Street and see their share prices beaten down even when the business is fundamentally sound.  Maybe GNC is just misunderstood…

Nope, sorry.  Wall Street understands GNC quite well.  It’s a declining business with deteroriating revenues AND profits.  Just take a look GNC’s Income Statement for the past year…

GNC Income Statement

Again, you don’t need to be some sort of financial analyst to understand what’s happening here.  See those numbers in Red?  See how they’re a lot lower than the previous quarters?  Yeah…that’s not good.

That said, with the announcement of some aggressive new changes, it appears as though GNC management is looking to change that.

This past July, I wrote an article in which I discussed the reasons why GNC’s board of directors fired it’s previous CEO and announced preliminary plans to re-think the business model.

The former business model, if you’re not familiar, consisted of a confusing pricing strategy which involved pricing products extremely high and then offering discounts to members of GNC’s loyalty program (the Gold card program).

The new GNC will feature:

  • Fixed pricing (across stores and website)
  • POS terminals to speed up checkout and help guide purchase decisions
  • A new GNC mobile app

And will launch in just under 4500 locations nationwide on December 29th.  Of course, this is just corporate locations.  As for the franchis locations?

Well, we don’t know yet.  Current CEO, Robert F. Moran, has yet to explain how these changes will impact the independently owned locations, most of which have taken a beating as the GNC brand name has become synonymous with “rip off” and “over-priced” in the mind of the average supplement consumer.

In fact, many of the independently owned GNC locations have already stopped sticking to the GNC script and have begun stocking products that they personally select in an effort to avoid going down along with the rest of the company.

The other obvious question—will this work?—is tough to answer.  In my previous article, I implored GNC execs to embrace the internet and get with the program…Or go under.  While I’m sure no GNC executive read my article (they don’t use the internet, remember?), it does appear as they got the message.

Maybe it’s the never-ending decline in sales quarter over quarter, year over year and the subsequent drop in share price that made them wake up a little.  Whatever it was, it’s clear that management is aware that serious changes need to be made on both the consumer end as well as behind the scenes.

The entire business model needs an overhaul and the product selection needs to be re-examined.  High margin products in shiny packages may appeal to customers the first time around, but if the products are:

  • Under-Dosed
  • Over-Priced
  • Ineffective

Then those customers will go elsewhere.  In fact, that’s exactly what seems to be happening and it took for revenues to actually start declining for executives to realize that!

Seriously though, GNC’s terrible performance is not the result of a single problem or one-time issue.  We’re talking about a company that’s consistently disappointed investors quarter over quarter, year over year for several years now with stagnant revenues and declining fundamentals.  Considering the fact that the supplement industry is growig rapidly, this is an obvious red flag for investors as it shows that consumers have realized GNC is NOT the best place to buy supplements…

Whether you’re an investor or a consumer, you’re better off just going with Amazon.

I’m Matt Theis, founder of SuppWithThat, Momentum Nutrition, and Singular Sport. I created SWT to separate the science from the hype and publish accurate, research-based information on supplements. If you like what I have to say here, feel free to check out my supplements at Momentum-Nutrition.com and SingularSport.com.

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