August 25, 2011, 10:03 AM

GNC muscles up an acquisition to grow e-commerce

GNC buys LuckyVitamin.com, which generates annual web sales of about $40 million.

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GNC is pumping up its growing web business with an acquisition.

General Nutrition Centers Inc., No. 227 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is acquiring LuckyVitamin.com, a competing online retailer of health and nutritional products, for an undisclosed sum.

LuckyVitamin.com was founded in 2004, has annual revenue of about $40 million and carries an inventory of about 30,000 products, says GNC. “LuckyVitamin.com has built a strong online brand and business as a discount retailer,” says GNC CEO Joe Fortunato. “LuckyVitamin.com creates a perfect opportunity for GNC to leverage our existing capabilities, provides synergies to strengthen the competitive position of LuckyVitamin.com and gain market share in the fast-growing discount e-commerce channel.”

GNC expects the deal to close within 30 days. When complete, LuckyVitamin.com will be run as a separate e-commerce site with its own inventory. LuckyVitamin.com founders Sam and Gary Wolf will continue to run the business, says GNC.

GNC is a relative newcomer to e-commerce—the company didn’t launch a web store until about 2005. But web sales are growing. In 2010, e-commerce sales increased 28.3% to $59 million from $46 million in 2009. For the first two quarters in 2011 online sales  totaled $39.6 million, up by 38.5% from $28.6 million for the same period in 2010.

The acquisition of LuckyVitamin.com gives GNC’s existing e-commerce business new ways to diversify, says GNC chief marketing and e-commerce officer Jeffrey Hennion. “This acquisition will allow us to participate in the online nutritional discount market without compromising our GNC Live Well brand or the market positioning of our successful GNC.com business,” says Hennion. “The combination of GNC.com’s premium branding, content and product assortment with LuckyVitamin.com’s competitive offering, advances GNC’s position in the e-commerce channel and leverages the strengths of both companies.”

 

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