RETAIL NEWS

GNC names Martindale chairman

BY David Salazar

Ken Martindale has been busy since he left the helm of Rite Aid to become GNC CEO last September — and he just got an additional job at the specialty health-and-wellness retailer. Martindale was named GNC chairman, effective immediately, the company announced Friday. He succeeds Bob Moran, who will become GNC’s lead independent director.

Martindale’s appointment to the board comes as part of an ongoing transaction with Chinese Pharmaceutical company Harbin Pharmaceutical Group (Hayao), through which the two companies will form a joint venture to bring GNC-branded products to Chinese consumers.

As part of the joint venture, the company is receiving a roughly $300 million investment from the Hayao — a 40% stake that will make it GNC’s single largest shareholder once the transaction closes. In addition to Martindale joining the board as chairman, the transaction will involve the board expanding to include five members from GNC and five members from Hayao.

Ken Martindale

“Ken has demonstrated exceptional leadership and strategic insight in his role as CEO, and the board looks forward to continuing to benefit from his insight and expertise as he assumes the role of Chairman,” Moran said. “We are confident that under Ken’s continued leadership we will be even better positioned to effectively implement our strategic plans and drive shareholder value.”

Since Martindale took the helm, the company also has focused on streamlining its portfolio, including the closure of 200 American and Canadian stores this year, an effort the retailer announced in April alongside its earnings and a plan to curb its store openings in 2018.

“I am honored to take on this new role as we accelerate our efforts to reposition GNC to drive growth, improve our financial strength and performance and enhance shareholder value,” Martindale said. “We continue to expect the transaction with Harbin Pharmaceutical Group to close later this year, and I look forward to working with the rest of the board as we execute our strategy to build on the strength of the GNC brand, leverage our capabilities in product and service innovation, expand our international presence and deliver a compelling, integrated customer experience.”

The companies have said they expect the Hayao deal to close in the latter half of 2018.

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