GNC to close 200 stores this year

Key Points
  • GNC is planning to shutter about 200 stores across the U.S. and Canada in 2018.
  • The company said it also expects to add a "limited number" of new locations.
  • GNC reported first-quarter earnings that topped analysts' expectations, but sales fell short.
People walk past a GNC store in New York City.
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GNC said Thursday it plans to shutter about 200 stores across the U.S. and Canada in 2018.

The vitamin shop owner has more than 8,000 locations globally, about 3,300 of which are corporately held and within the U.S. and Canada, according to its website. It also operates shops within Rite Aid stores, and has a little more than 1,000 domestic franchise locations.

GNC explained its "[e]fforts toward favorable lease renegotiations or relocation opportunities are ongoing and may impact the amount of stores closings." It added it only expects to open a "limited number" of new locations this year.

For the first quarter of fiscal 2018, GNC had net income of $6.2 million, or 7 cents per share, compared with $24.7 million, or 36 cents a share, a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, GNC earned 24 cents a share, 2 cents more than analysts' expectations, based on a Thomson Reuters survey.

Revenues fell to $607.5 million, while analysts were calling for $654.9 million. Same-store sales climbed roughly 0.5 percent.

GNC shares climbed more than 4 percent Thursday afternoon following the quarterly earnings report.

Though sales in the U.S. and Canada were down, GNC's international business improved in the latest period.

Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Holdings, a leading pharmaceutical company in China, earlier this year announced its plans to invest $300 million in the retailer. GNC said Thursday it will hold a meeting on May 9 to work toward finalizing the partnership.

On a call with analysts and investors, CEO Ken Martindale said: "Capitalizing on growth opportunities in our international markets remains a high strategic priority. ... Our goal is to create a consistent and satisfying experience for all customers, no matter the outlet in which they find us, whether it be a retail store, online or on a mobile device."

CNBC has reported on the unprecedented amount of retail square footage set to close this year, with companies like Bon-Ton, Toys R Us and Sears shuttering massive locations. GNC is looking to use the opportunity to negotiate with landlords on lease terms and rents, as many tenants are trying to do today.

Read: Here are all the store closures we know are coming in 2018