GNC (company)

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GNC Holdings, LLC
FormerlyGNC Holdings, Inc.
IndustryHealth and wellness stores
Founded1935; 87 years ago (1935)
FounderDavid Shakarian
HeadquartersStrip District, ,
United States
Number of locations
2,281 U.S. stores (2022)
Key people
ProductsNutritional supplements
ParentHarbin Pharmaceutical Group (2020–present)
Footnotes / references

GNC Holdings, LLC (abbreviated GNC; alternatively General Nutrition Centers) is a retail company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[5][6] It specializes in health and nutrition related products, including vitamins, supplements, minerals, herbs, sports nutrition, diet, and energy products.

In 2020, Harbin Pharmaceutical Group, a Chinese partially state-owned pharmaceutical manufacturer,[7][8][9] acquired the company.[10][11]


Former GNC world headquarters, Wood Street, Pittsburgh

In 1935, David Shakarian opened a small health food store, Lackzoom, in downtown Pittsburgh. He made US$35 on his first day[12] and was able to open a second store within six months. A year later, Shakarian suffered from what appeared to be a fatal blow when the Ohio River flooded into downtown on St. Patrick's Day. Both of his stores were wiped out. But he opened a new store the next year and later began a mail-order business, shipping health foods and later vitamins and prescription drugs throughout the country.[13] Major expansion began in the 1960s. Shakarian said the physical fitness movement, anxiety about smoking and the growth shopping centers brought success to his business venture.[14]

In the 1960s, the company changed the name of its stores to General Nutrition Centers.[15] Shakarian stepped down as chief executive officer in February 1984 but continued as chairman until his death later that year.[14]

Shakarian took GNC public (listed on the NYSE) in the 1980s. Gary Daum was named chief executive office in February 1984. In May 1985, Jerry Horn took on the role.[16] GNC was taken private and sold to Thomas H. Lee Partners a PE investment/management fund in the late 1980s. Thomas Lee ran GNC and took it public prior to selling the company to Royal Dutch Numico and Numico acquired GNC in 1999;[17] it sold GNC to Apollo Management in 2003.[18] Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Ares Management bought GNC in 2007.[19] GNC went public in 2011.[20]

In 1990, the company considered relocating but a public/private effort retained GNC headquarters in Downtown Pittsburgh.[6]

An empty and closed GNC store in June 2020

In 2018, the Chinese state-owned Harbin Pharmaceutical Group agreed to acquire an approximately 40% stake in GNC.[21] In September 2020, Senator Marco Rubio asked the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to examine the proposed acquisition on data protection and national security grounds.[22]

In November 2018, the company announced they would be closing up to 900 stores over 3 years. In July 2019, it was announced that they planned to close up to 1,400 company owned retail locations, primarily those located within shopping malls.[23]

In June 2020, GNC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and indicated plans to close at least 800 stores.[24] Effective on June 30, 2020, the stock was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange and shifted to the OTC Markets Group.[25] In September 2020, the bankruptcy court in Delaware approved the sale of GNC for $770 million to Harbin Pharmaceutical Group.[26]

The company emerged from the Chapter 11 process under the new ownership of Harbin Pharmaceutical Group in October 2020.[27] In 2021, GNC revealed that Josh Burris will take over as CEO and Cam Lawrence as CFO. [28]

In 2021, GNC announced a partnership with Walmart for a selection of GNC specific products.[29]

Retail and online stores[edit]

GNC stores typically stock a wide range of weight loss, bodybuilding, nutritional supplements, vitamins, natural remedies, and health and beauty products, in both its owned brands as well as third-party brands. Its products are also sold on and, as of January 2017, on GNC's Amazon Marketplace.[30]

On December 31, 2018, GNC had approximately 8,400 locations, of which approximately 6,200 were in the United States (including approximately 2,200 Rite Aid licensed store-within-a-store locations), as well as franchise operations in approximately 50 countries.[31]

Of GNC's approximately 4,100 U.S. locations in 2019, 61% were in strip malls and 28% were in larger malls.[32]


In 1998, GNC was accused of purposely running its franchisees out of business in order to "retake" the stores into corporate control.[33] An April 30, 2003 article states that the GNC corporate company was sued by numerous franchise owners.[34] The complaint is that the parent company was allowing their corporate owned stores to sell products for less than the franchise stores are allowed to sell them for. The suit also claimed that GNC charged high "reset fees" to franchisees when there is new signage that needs to be changed in the store or an image facelift that must be done by GNC corporate.[35] A similar lawsuit was filed again in an article written on October 20, 2004.[36]

In February 2015, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent cease and desist letters to GNC and other major retailers due to concerning laboratory tests regarding the accuracy of the claimed contents of supplements.[37][38] GNC shortly afterwards removed some stock from sales while working with the Attorney General.[39][40] In September 2016, GNC, the New York Office of the Attorney General, and other supplement retailers ultimately came to an agreement and retailers are now accomplishing more robust testing of supplements to ensure accurate labeling.[41][42]

In October 2015, the Attorney General of Oregon filed a lawsuit against GNC alleging that the company knowingly sold products containing the ingredients picamilon and BMPEA, which are banned by the FDA.[43][44][45]

On February 2, 2017, GNC threatened to sue the Fox Broadcasting Company for "significant economic and reputational damages, lost opportunities, and consequential damages", after an advertisement for the chain was blocked from airing during Super Bowl LI. Despite repeated approvals by Fox, the network stated that the ad had been vetoed by the National Football League because of GNC's placement on an NFLPA blacklist for selling products that contain substances banned by the NFL. The letter of intent claimed that Fox had not informed them of any such rules when they purchased the ad time, and cited that the purchase induced them to "spend millions of dollars in production costs and in the development of a national, coordinated marketing and rebranding campaign" around the commercial. The NFL itself does not prohibit ads for health stores unless they contain references to specific prohibited products; the GNC ad only contained motivational themes and no references to its products.[46][47][48]


  1. ^ "GNC Completes sale to Chinese Harbin Pharmaceutical 2020". 2021-06-15.
  2. ^ Doughty, Nate. "GNC appoints new CEO, CFO following last year's restructuring and sale to Harbin Pharmaceutical Group". Pittsburgh Business Times. Retrieved 2022-06-03.
  3. ^ "US SEC: Form 10-K GNC Holdings Inc". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  4. ^ "Kenneth A. Martindale: Executive Profile & Biography - Bloomberg". Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  5. ^ "GNC celebrates opening of new headquarters office at 75 Hopper Place in the Strip District". 3 June 2022.
  6. ^ a b Daparma, Ron (April 17, 2003), "Robinson to retire as RIDC president", Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh, PA
  7. ^ "Harbin Pharmaceutical to issue RMB 800 mln short-term bonds". 10 November 2008. Retrieved 2020-09-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Ferek, Katy Stech (2020-09-10). "Rubio Seeks Security Review of Chinese Bid for GNC". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  9. ^ Stevenson, Alexandra; Kulish, Nicholas; Gelles, David (2020-04-24). "Frantic for Coronavirus Gear, Americans in Need Turn to China's Elite". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  10. ^ "GNC Taps 5WPR For Consumer Business". Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  11. ^ "GNC, China's Harbin Pharmaceutical agree on sale price before auction". New Hope Network. 2020-08-10. Retrieved 2021-04-08.
  12. ^ "G.n.c. Expanding at a Robust Pace by Moving to Malls". The New York Times. 1981-11-02. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
  13. ^ "Founder of GNC chain dies - UPI Archives". 1984-09-11. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  14. ^ a b "Founder Of Food Chain Dies - The New York Times". The New York Times. 1984-09-13. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  15. ^ "#284 GNC". Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  16. ^ Todd S. Purdum (1985-05-15). "Business People; Chief Is Replaced By General Nutrition - The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  17. ^ "Fire sale leaves GNC as Dutch parent's lone U.S. unit". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  18. ^ JOURNAL, Robin SidelStaff Reporter of THE WALL STREET (2003-10-17). "Apollo Management Agrees To Buy General Nutrition". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  19. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (7 December 2010). "Three Years After Private Equity Boom, an Exit Strategy". DealBook. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  20. ^ Rovell, Darren (2011-12-28). "GNC is IPO Star Of 2011". Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  21. ^ Kate Wu (February 13, 2018). "China's Harbin Pharma to buy stake in U.S. health retailer GNC". Reuters. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  22. ^ Bartz, Diane (2020-09-10). "U.S. senator asks for CFIUS review of GNC purchase by Chinese company". Reuters. Retrieved 2020-09-12.
  23. ^ "GNC plans to close up to 900 stores with a focus on mall locations". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  24. ^ "GNC Holdings Inc. files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection - Pittsburgh Business Times". June 24, 2020.
  25. ^ Twedt, Steve (June 30, 2020). "NYSE to begin process of delisting GNC shares". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  26. ^ Doherty, Katherine (September 17, 2020). "GNC Wins Bankruptcy Court Approval for Sale to Chinese Sponsor". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on October 7, 2020. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  27. ^ "Court approves GNC bankruptcy plan". Retrieved 2021-11-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ Wilson, Marianne (11 February 2021). "GNC names new CEO". Chain Store Age. Retrieved 2021-07-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. ^ "GNC, Walmart in 'exclusive' tie-up in stores and online". Retail Dive. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  30. ^ Garcia, Tonya (2017-04-19). "GNC credits Amazon marketplace, fewer promotions for improved earnings". MarketWatch. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  31. ^ "GNC forms strategic partnership with International Vitamin Corporation (IVC) | GNC Holdings, Inc". Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  32. ^ "GNC store closings: Up to 900 could close with focus on mall stores". Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  33. ^ Hays, Constance L. (2001-08-22). "Franchisees On Edge; Some Angry Ones Sue As GNC Competes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-11.
  34. ^ "Franchisees sue GNC in New Jersey - Pittsburgh Business Times". 2003-04-30. Retrieved 2014-02-11.
  35. ^ Retrieved 2022-07-20. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  36. ^ "GNC franchisees file lawsuit - Pittsburgh Business Times". 2004-10-20. Retrieved 2014-02-11.
  37. ^ "A.G. Schneiderman Asks Major Retailers To Halt Sales Of Certain Herbal Supplements As DNA Tests Fail To Detect Plant Materials Listed On Majority Of Products Tested". 3 February 2015. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
  38. ^ O'Connor, Anahad (28 September 2016). "New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
  39. ^ "GNC Stands Behind the Quality of Its Products and Agrees to Temporarily Remove a Small Number of Products While Working with New York State Attorney General's Office". GNC Holdings, Inc. 4 February 2015. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
  40. ^ "GNC Refutes New York State Attorney General's Claims in Full and Robust Response". GNC Holdings, Inc. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
  41. ^ "A.G. Schneiderman Announces Major Nationwide Agreement With NBTY, Herbal Supplement Maker for Walgreens And Walmart". 28 September 2016. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
  42. ^ Parveen, Iffat; Gafner, Stefan; Techen, Natascha; Murch, Susan J.; Khan, Ikhlas A. (September 2016). "DNA Barcoding for the Identification of Botanicals in Herbal Medicine and Dietary Supplements: Strengths and Limitations". Planta Medica. 82 (14): 1225–1235. doi:10.1055/s-0042-111208. ISSN 1439-0221. PMID 27392246.
  43. ^ Aguillard, Anna (30 November 2015). "Oregon's crackdown on GNC part of nation-wide crackdown on dietary supplement industry". Legal News Line. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  44. ^ Young, Alison (23 October 2015). "Oregon AG accuses retailer GNC of selling drug-spiked dietary supplements". USA Today. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  45. ^ Germano, Sara; NG, Serena (22 October 2015). "Oregon Sues GNC, Alleging Supplements Contained Illegal Ingredients". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  46. ^ "GNC's Super Bowl ad controversy escalates". USA Today. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  47. ^ Bruell, Alexandra (2017-01-31). "GNC's Super Bowl Ad Rejected by NFL". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  48. ^ "Watch the GNC ad the NFL rejected from Super Bowl". USA Today. Retrieved 1 February 2017.

External links[edit]