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Sales of True Athlete range are double what we expected, says Vitamin Shoppe

By Elaine Watson , 28-Feb-2012

Sales of Vitamin Shoppe’s new True Athlete sports nutrition range have significantly exceeded expectations, bosses have revealed.

Speaking on a call with analysts about the firm’s Q4, 2011 earnings, chief executive Tony Truesdale said True Athlete products were targeted at everyone from elite athletes to fitness enthusiasts “with a passion for natural products”.

The range, which contains no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners, is the first retailer private label line to become NSF Certified for Sport, he added:“We’re very proud of True Athlete. Sales are double what we originally thought the potential would be and plans are to broaden the product line over the coming months.

“We plan to build on the success of the True Athlete line and will be developing additional proprietary product lines…

“They will probably not be under the Vitamin Shoppe name. We’ll work with contract manufacturers and through consumer research identify areas where we think there is an opportunity to develop new lines.”

Q4 results breakdown

Net sales surged 19.2% to $214.9m in the fourth quarter driven by strong like-for-like sales in its store estate, 14 new stores and a 13.2% rise in e-commerce sales.

The firm, which unveiled a 56.7% hike in net income to $9.4m in the three months to December 31, 2011, planned to enter the Canadian market in the first half of 2013, said Truesdale.

52 new stores planned for 2012 – including new smaller format stores

As of December 31, 2011, Vitamin Shoppe operated 528 stores and aims to open a further 52 new stores in 2012, said president and chief operating officer Michael Archbold.

“We’ve already identified more than 90% of the locations for 2012 and have started to secure sites for 2013 as well.”

A prototype store – around 20% smaller than standard Vitamin Shoppe stores – would also be tested this year in two locations, he revealed.

“They will still carry a broad selection of products and are targeted at smaller markets.”

We’re generating a lot of new customers on the web

There were lots of opportunities to drive online sales, said Truesdale. “We’re generating a lot of new customers on the web. We’ve got 8,000 stock keeping units in stores and 20,000 online.”

But growth would be achieved through improving the online shopping experience, not through lowering prices, he added: “Too many people are playing in the price side of this business. That’s not where we want to play.”

Based in North Bergen, New Jersey, Vitamin Shoppe sells vitamins, minerals, nutritional supplements, herbs, sports nutrition formulas, homeopathic remedies, and health and beauty aids.

The company carries national brand products as well as exclusive products under the Vitamin Shoppe and BodyTech proprietary brands.

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