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"Our extensive research and development programmes guarantee that when you buy GNC vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements, you can be sure that you're buying the best quality, safest and most effective products available all at the best price available." [1]


"David Shakarian, in 1935, opened the first of what would eventually become a successful chain of health food and vitamin stores called General Nutrition. His innovative health concept flourished in the steel-making town of Pittsburgh during the 1950s, prompting him to eventually open 30 other stores in that city. He also began adding vitamins and other health supplements to his product line, and expanding operations into other cities, such as New York.

"Shakarian's success peaked during the 1970s. Demand for vitamins and a new generation of "miracle products," which claimed to improve both body and mind, emerged, and General Nutrition Inc. (GNI) experienced rampant expansion across the United States... Shakarian died in 1984, just as the company was reaching a historic slump. Although GNI's stock price had vacillated wildly during the past few decades, often rising after the introduction of a faddish new vitamin supplement, it was selling for a pitiful $5 per share when its founder died--$25 less than its price 12 months earlier. And problems continued to mount. GNI's factories were operating at only 30 percent capacity, and Shakarian's will, which included much of GNI's stock, was contested by his survivors. The company fired long-time president Gary Daum and fellow manager Bart Shakarian (David's brother) and brought in Jerry Horn in 1985 to clean up the mess.

"Analysts questioned Jerry Horn's sanity when he, in 1985, accepted an invitation to serve as president of the troubled General Nutrition Inc. Horn had just performed an impressive six-year stint as president of Seattle-based Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), and had previously completed 20 successful years with Sears...

"William E. Watts replaced Jerry Horn as president of GNI in late 1988. Horn retained his position as chief executive officer and was later elected chairman of the board. In 1989 Watts, Horn, and other GNI executives accomplished a leveraged buyout of the company with the help of Boston-based investment firm Thomas H. Lee Company. A new company, General Nutrition Companies, Inc. (GNC), was created to operate GNI as its major subsidiary...

"In 1994 GNC opened 172 company and 224 franchise stores and added another 207 units by acquiring Nature Food Centers for $61 million. Sales for fiscal 1994 were $672.9 million, up from $546 million in 1993. In 1994 Success magazine named GNC the top franchise opportunity in America, and in May 1995 GNC awarded its 1,000th franchise. Nearly half of GNC's more than 2,000 stores were franchises. The format worked well, and the company was able to successfully roll out new stores...

"GNC established a foundation for expansion into the United Kingdom in 1995 by acquiring the U.K.'s second-largest, vertically-integrated self-care company, the Health and Diet Group, which operated 22 retail stores. GNC planned to open another 15 stores in the United Kingdom by the end of 1996 and saw a potential for 300--400 new locations there. In 1997, 24 GNC centers were opened in Canada..." [2]



Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. GNC About, organizational web page, accessed February 20, 2013.
  2. fundinguniverse General Nutrition Companies, Inc. History, organizational web page, accessed February 20, 2013.