FINANCE

GNC acquires U.K. online retailer Discount Supplements

BY Marianne Wilson

Pittsburgh — GNC Holdings has acquired A1 Sports Limited, which operates under the Discount Supplements moniker. The company is the leading multi-brand sports nutrition e-commerce retailer in the United Kingdom. Terms of the deal, which was funded with cash on hand, were not disclosed.

Following the acquisition, GNC.com, LuckyVitamin.com and Discount-supplements.co.uk will continue to operate as separate businesses, each with its own product offerings and target customers.

"Entering the U.K. and other key European and Scandinavian markets are core elements of our strategic plan to expand GNC’s global reach. With this acquisition, we are well positioned to capitalize on the fastest growing channel in Europe’s top market. We also see the potential to leverage GNC’s marketing, product development and procurement capabilities to drive synergies,” said Joe Fortunato, GNC’s chairman, president & CEO.

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News

New CEO for Global Payments

BY CSA STAFF

Global Payments president Jeffrey S. Sloan has been named as the company’s CEO by the company’s board of directors. He succeeds Paul R. Garcia, who has been the company’s CEO since June 1999 and Chairman since October 2002.

Under Garcia’s leadership, Global Payments became a publicly traded company in early 2001. At that time, Global Payments generated annual revenues of under $350 million, nearly all of which was sourced in the United States. Today, Global Payments is a multinational corporation with nearly $2.5 billion in revenues for fiscal year 2013.

"Paul is a true visionary who has shaped this company into one of the leading payments companies in the world,” said lead director William I Jacobs. “We are immensely grateful for his 14 years of leadership and dedication as CEO, and look forward to his continued guidance as chairman through fiscal 2014."

Sloan has been responsible for the Americas’ businesses and worldwide mergers and acquisitions strategy since he joined Global Payments in 2010. In 2012, he assumed additional responsibilities for worldwide operations, risk management, customer care and corporate marketing and communications.

"Based on Jeff’s experience at Global Payments, his nearly 20 years of financial services background and his deep industry knowledge, we are confident that he is the ideal successor to drive sustainable growth over the long term for Global Payments," added Jacobs.

Jacobs is expected to succeed Garcia as chairman when Garcia ultimately retires.

"I have been very fortunate to have worked with Paul over the past 14 years, beginning with the IPO of Global Payments early in the last decade,” said Sloan. “Paul has built an incredibly strong company comprised of talented people, and he continues to be a consummate innovator and thought leader in an ever-changing worldwide payments environment. I look forward to continuing to work with Paul and the rest of the board of directors as we successfully execute on our growth initiatives."

"Jeff is prepared to lead this company as its president and CEO,” added Garcia. “His decisive leadership and his deep experiences and knowledge across the entire business uniquely qualify him to successfully assume this role immediately. He is well respected throughout the industry and he embodies the company’s core values."

Prior to joining Global Payments, Sloan spent 12 years at Goldman, Sachs & Co., serving as a partner for six years with responsibility for developing the firm’s worldwide payments practice in investment banking. He serves on the boards of FleetCor Technologies, Inc., Camp Twin Lakes and Pace Academy. Sloan is also a board member of the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA), serving as the chairman of the ETA’s Industry Relations Committee as well as a member of the Finance Committee.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Study: Purchasing of products associated with a cause up 170% since 1993

BY Marianne Wilson

Boston — Over half (54%) of American bought a product associated with a cause over the last 12 months, a 170% increase since 1993, according to a report by Cone Communications. And 89% of Americans are likely to switch brands to one associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality, up nearly 35% since 1993.

"In the midst of the ribbonization of America – where it’s near-impossible to walk down a store aisle without spotting a cause – consumers want to see even more brands engage in social and environmental issues," said Alison DaSilva, executive VP, Research & Insights, Cone Communications. "Through 20 years of research, Americans’ inclinations to shop for good has ebbed and flowed, alongside economic upheaval, political unrest and acts of terrorism. But one thing remains clear: consumer demand for cause is stronger than ever, solidifying it as a savvy business strategy."

The study reveals the majority of Americans are uncertain of the extent to which corporate and individual efforts result in meaningful change. Despite a plethora of cause initiatives, fewer than one-in-five consumers (16%) believes companies have made significant positive impact on social or environmental issues, and just 25% believes their own purchases substantially influence those issues.

"The onus is on companies to go beyond mission statements to provide personally relevant and tangible evidence that collectively, businesses and consumers are moving the needle,” said Craig Bida, executive VP, social impact, Cone Communications.

The study showed the U.S. Hispanic population to be one of the most actively engaged consumer segments to-date. Hispanics are more apt than the general U.S. population to purchase products and services associated with causes (94% vs. 89% general population). And they more frequently go beyond the register to donate (70% vs. 65%), volunteer (47% vs. 42%) and advocate on behalf of companies (43% vs. 38%).

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