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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Vitamin Shoppe appoints new merchandising, marketing chief

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A retailer that specializes in nutritional products tapped a 30-year retail veteran to head up its merchandising and marketing efforts.

The Vitamin Shoppe named David Mock as its executive VP, chief merchandising and marketing officer, effective July 30, 2018. He has been serving as a consultant to the company since January.

Mock brings three decades of merchandising experience to the position. Most recently, he served as president of D Mock Retail Rebuild Ltd. Prior to that, he was chief merchandising and marketing officer for Earth Fare.

Mock also served as senior VP merchandising, global sourcing and innovation officer for Canadian Tire Retail, as well as senior VP merchandising, hardlines, consumables, pharmacy, haba/cosmetics for Zellers. He also held various positions at Loblaw Companies Limited, with his last position being senior VP food merchandising and marketing.

“We are delighted to have Dave join the Vitamin Shoppe leadership team,” said Alex Smith, chairman of the Vitamin Shoppe. “He is a talented and experienced retail executive with significant experience in retail transformation and a proven track record of successfully implementing strategies and rapidly turning around retailers driving top line growth and improved profitability. We look forward to working with Dave as we continue building on the transformational work that is underway.”

The appointment comes on the heels of the retailer appointing Sharon M. Leite as its new CEO, effective Aug. 27, 2018. She will also become a member of the board. Most recently, Leite served as president of Godiva Chocolatier in North America, a position she has held since October 2017.

The Vitamin Shoppe conducts business through more than 775 company-operated retail stores under The Vitamin Shoppe and Super Supplements retail banners, and through its website.

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Albertsons, Greycroft to help emerging companies expand

BY Marianne Wilson

Albertsons and venture capital firm Greycroft are teaming up to develop innovative companies by leveraging each other’s strengths.

The two companies announced the creation of a fund — up to $50 million over time — that will invest in and look to help grow emerging companies and technologies in the grocery sector. The fund will utilize Greycroft’s investment expertise and connections into the early-stage technology industry and Albertsons’ grocery expertise and national footprint, including its presence in e-commerce home delivery in eight of the top 10 MSA’s in the United States.

Albertsons said its investment in the fund is part of its broader technology strategy, aiming to provide insights and opportunities to partner with new and emerging technologies impacting the grocery sector.

“Albertsons is committed to meeting customers wherever and however they like to shop, and part of that is being at the forefront of the tremendous innovation our industry has seen over the last five years,” said Shane Sampson, chief marketing & merchandising officer. “As we saw with our recent acquisition of Plated, Albertsons Companies has the capital, scale, and expertise to power future growth of the most promising emerging businesses and technologies across the food and grocery space.”

In 2018, annual online retail sales of food and beverages in the U.S. are expected to exceed $20 billion, according to Coresight Research. Since 2013, investment in the food and beverage sector has more than tripled, as the industry continues to be disrupted by start-ups and incubators.

“As our e-commerce companies scale, they often incorporate a brick-and-mortar strategy to reach the entire U.S. market,” said Ian Sigalow, co-founder and partner of Greycroft. “This partnership with Albertsons will enable our companies to tap into their 34 million weekly customers, across a wide range of industries including consumer products, healthcare, wellness, pharmaceuticals, and grocery.”

Albertsons operates stores across 35 states and the District of Columbia under 20 banners including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, and Star Market, as well as meal kit company Plated.

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