After 44 years of a policy of corporate ownership of retail outlets, The Vitamin Shoppe has launched its first-ever franchising program.
The retailer will partner with business owners to operate franchise locations using a model that rewards franchisees for driving VitaminShoppe.com and VShoppe app sales via a commission structure.
“We are offering a proven and profitable business model in an expanding consumer sector, as well as an innovative, fully omnichannel franchise model that rewards our partners for growing e-commerce sales in their franchise territories,” Sharon Leite, CEO of The Vitamin Shoppe, told NutraIngredients-USA.
Leite added that a major priority is to ensure the customer experience across both company-owned and new franchise stores always retains consistency. With that in mind, franchise stores have been designed to be indistinguishable from The Vitamin Shoppe’s nearly 700 corporate stores.
Timing is key
Leite told us that the pandemic amplified the centrality of health and wellness concerns among many consumers and the growing importance they are placing on physical and mental wellbeing.
“That has translated into growing interest in The Vitamin Shoppe and the industry-leading quality and expertise we provide in all of our products and services. Combined with favorable market conditions, such as the pandemic’s impact on the retail real estate market, we believe this is an ideal time to add this innovative franchising element to our growth strategy,” said Leite. “Now is an especially opportune time to partner with highly motivated entrepreneurs to expand our store fleet. This new growth strategy is a capital-efficient way to grow our retail footprint in a favorable real estate market, while empowering our franchise partners to create dynamic, locally-owned businesses.”
The Vitamin Shoppe was acquired by Liberty Tax in 2019. At the time, Pat Cozza, an independent member of the Board of Directors of Liberty Tax, emphasized the idea of a franchise model: “We have great confidence in the value of The Vitamin Shoppe, its ongoing strategic reinvention plan and the outstanding efforts of The Vitamin Shoppe leadership team and associates. We believe that The Vitamin Shoppe is an excellent fit for Liberty Tax’s previously announced strategy to acquire franchise-centric businesses, and demonstrates the commitment of Liberty Tax, its board and management team to implement the previously announced strategic transformation of Liberty Tax.”
According to Leite, the response has been encouraging. “We’ve had strong, positive interest from our franchising announcement. We had great engagement during our first ‘discovery day’ where qualified, potential partners learn much more about our business and can speak directly to our executive leadership team. I encourage interested parties to visit OwnAVitaminShoppe.com to explore this rewarding opportunity and to sign up for the next discovery day,” said Leite.
From inquiry to ownership, the announcement said that the franchisee journey can be completed within six to eight weeks. The store’s first franchised locations are expected to open later this year.
Franchise markets are available in 48 states. They’re not available in Washington and Oregon, where The Vitamin Shoppe operates stores under the Super Supplements banner.