February 15, 2012, 11:13 AM

E-commerce hits its sales stride for Weight Watchers

Online sales grew almost 70% and now accounts for nearly 25% of all revenue.

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WeightWatchers.com hit its stride in 2011, says CEO David Kirchhoff.

It was a big year online and in the fourth quarter for Weight Watchers International Inc.

For the year ended Dec. 31, Weight Watchers, No. 81 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide reported:

  • E-commerce revenue of $399.5 million, up by about 67.3% from $238.8 million in 2010. The big jump in online sales can be attributed to a 45.5% increase to 1.6 million from about 1.1 million in the number of new subscribers signing for the company’s web-based dieting plans, Weight Watchers says.
  • Total sales of $1.82 billion, up 25.5% from $1.45 billion.
  • Net income climbed 57.0%, to $304.9 million from $194.2 million.

The web accounted for 22.0% of total sales in 2011, compared with 16.5% in 2011. “2011 was an important year for Weight Watchers as we began to see the benefits from multiple strategic initiatives,” says CEO David Kirchhoff. “This was also the year in which our WeightWatchers.com business began to fully hit its stride.”

For the fourth quarter Weight Watchers reported:

  • E-commerce revenue of $100 million, up by about 60.3% from $62.4 million in 2010.
  • Total sales of $401.3 million, up 12.5% from $356.7 million.
  • Net income climbed 31.3%, to $63.7 million from $48.5 million.

The web accounted for 24.9% of total sales in 2011, compared with 17.5% in 2011.

Growing online sales also coincided with a number of major e-commerce technology upgrades for Weight Watchers in 2011. Last year Weight Watchers launched a barcode scanning app for the iPhone and Android platforms that allowed online subscribers to use their smartphones to quickly determine their meal points for products in the grocery store. Weight Watchers also launched a complete revamp of the subscriber portion of the web site, Kirchhoff told analysts on the company’s year-end earnings call.

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