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GNC reports 2008 financial results

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PITTSBURGH General Nutrition Centers on Thursday reported revenue of $1.7 billion for the year ended Dec. 31, an increase of 6.7%. Same-store sales improved 2.7% in domestic company-owned stores, the specialty retailer reported.

EBITDA totaled $212.2 million for 2008, up 69.1%.

Revenue across GNC’s manufacturing and wholesale increased 10.8% for the year to $179.4 million.

“The growth in this segment was the result of increased third party sales and additional license fee revenue for Rite Aid's store-within-a-store openings,” said GNC CFO Michael Nuzzo.

Rite Aid continued to expand its GNC store-within-a-store concept, adding a net 30 stores this quarter, Nuzzo said, bringing the total number of GNC/Rite Aid locations to 1,712, up from 1,358 stores last year.

Rite Aid is planning to open another 200 GNC storefronts this year. “We've been in constant touch with them on things as we work through the year, and we're trying to partner with them, to help them in any way we can,” Joseph Fortunato, GNC CEO, told analysts Thursday. “We're in discussions on some things right now, and I'm not free to really disclose them. But I think they are fairly firm in that they're going to try to hold their commitments with us,” he said, responding to an analyst’s question on whether or not Rite Aid had shut down its GNC expansion plans.

At year end, operated 2,774 company-owned stores in the United States and Canada and had 954 domestic franchise locations, in addition to 1,712 Rite-Aid locations and 1,190 international franchise locations for a total of 6,630 locations globally.

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