- Supplement retailer GNC promoted Josh Burris to the CEO role, according to a press release. Burris joined GNC in 2019 as head of the company's U.S. business.
- Additionally, the company promoted Cam Lawrence to the CFO slot. Lawrence also joined in 2019, coming in as chief accounting officer. Both appointments are effective immediately.
- After its acquisition in bankruptcy by a Chinese investor, GNC indicated it would be letting go of then-CEO Ken Martindale and Chief Global Officer Carl Seletz.
GNC is getting a reboot after its Chapter 11 last year and acquisition by its largest investor, Harbin Pharmaceutical Group.
Harbin bought a major stake in GNC in 2018, helping to ease the company's debt load, leftover in part from multiple private equity acquisitions during the 2000s. Last year, Harbin acquired full ownership of GNC while the retailer was in bankruptcy after no other qualified bidders stepped up.
The retailer started in 1935 as a single health food store, opened by David Shakarian in Pittsburgh and specializing in yogurt, which at the time was fairly new to American diets. Over the years it broadened its assortment of wellness products and opened thousands of stores under the General Nutrition Centers banner. It went public, was taken private, went public again, and then, in 2020, went bankrupt.
GNC had faced financial distress for years leading up to 2020, in large part because of its debt load, as well as stalling sales through its massive physical and largely mall-based footprint. Then came COVID-19 and widespread disruption to brick-and-mortar retail last year.
While GNC first planned to keep its stores open as an essential retailer — a designation that not all state regulators agreed with and some employees were uncomfortable with — the company ultimately shuttered around 40% of its stores temporarily in the spring. In April and May, the company's sales at stores fell by up 60%, magnifying its underlying financial issues.
Now under Harbin, GNC could have access to new capital and opportunities, after restructuring and shrinking physically in bankruptcy. The retailer is looking to "meet growing demand and bring innovative products to consumers through improved store experiences, new omnichannel offerings and wholesale partnerships — all while increasing products' speed to market," GNC said in the release announcing its new executive leadership.
Lawrence, the new CFO, said GNC is "now a stronger, leaner and more nimble business, and with the right strategies in place, we are extremely well-positioned to thrive in a category that is experiencing explosive growth."
Martindale, a former Rite Aid CEO who led GNC before and during its bankruptcy, is now a self-employed private investor, according to the former chief's LinkedIn account. Just days before GNC filed for bankruptcy, the company paid Martindale a $2.2 million retention bonus and paid Seletz $330,000.