GNC to shutter up to 900 stores

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 176 views 

Specialty retailer GNC announced plans this week to close up to 900 stores which may cut its mall locations in half. The closures are part of the retailer’s store optimization effort.

CEO Ken Martindale cited “current mall traffic trends” in the announcement. The company said 61% of its store base is located in strip centers, while 28% reside in malls.

“I think it could be likely that we’ll reduce our mall count by nearly half,” chief financial officer Tricia Tolivar said. “So we’ve got a little over 800 malls today and over the long-term, we could bring that closer to 400 to 500.”

The Pennsylvania-based retailer has already closed 192 stores in the first half of this year, according to company records,

Martindale said the negative traffic trends in malls over the past several years has accelerated in recent quarters, putting pressure on comps sales for the company.

“As part of our work to optimize our store footprint, we’re increasing our focus on mall locations. And as you know, we have a great deal of flexibility to take further action here due to the short lease terms we have across our store portfolio. It’s important to note that our strip center locations are relatively stable from a comparable sales perspective.”

There are six GNC locations in Northwest Arkansas. Only two of them are in malls, one in the Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville and one in the Frisco Station Mall in Rogers. There are franchise-owned stores in Fayetteville and Rogers in addition to the two company-owned stores in the malls. Other franchise-owned locations in the region are in Bella Vista and Springdale.