The Vitamin Shoppe is poised to become a lot bigger—and stronger—in 2013 with its recently announced acquisition of Seattle-based Super Supplements. The $50 million cash purchase will give the national supplement retail chain 31 Super Supplements stores in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. This will enable New Jersey-based Vitamin Shoppe to significantly expand its West Coast presence and add an estimated $75 million in sales in 2013.
According to Super Supplements CEO Jim Sweeney, the Super Supplement management team and all 400 of the company’s employees will stay on after the sale to Vitamin Shoppe is closed early next year. This means that, along with acquiring a set of popular supplement stores in a strategically important part of the country, Vitamin Shoppe is also acquiring a group of 400 managers and employees who intimately understand the art and science of supplement retail.
As I see it, Super Supplements’ people could be one of the most valuable aspects of this deal. That's because customer service and staff product expertise are critical elements of supplement retail, and Super Supplements shoppers consistently give the retail chain high marks on these fronts.
“[Super Supplements provides] the ABSOLUTE best product knowledge and customer service I’ve ever experienced. Jeff, Daniel, Nathan and Cyrus live to make sure a customer makes the best informed decision on what supplements are which and why one may be more effective.”
A 2012 interview Natural Foods Merchandiser did with Sweeney and Al Briscoe, Super Supplements’ director of buying and merchandising, confirms what shoppers know about this retailer—that its people care about their customers and know a lot about the products they sell.
“We realize that most of the products in our stores can be bought elsewhere—especially at discount online stores,” Sweeney told NFM. “So, yes, we really focus on customer service. We have dedicated salespeople on the floor to answer questions. We’re available to describe the differences between various brands, or just listen. We like to consider our level of service akin to what shoppers expect from high-end department stores. So far, it seems to be working.”
NFM will be writing more about this acquisition and what it is likely to mean for both Vitamin Shoppe and Super Supplements in the weeks to come. But my initial analysis is that this seems to be a very good deal for Vitamin Shoppe, as well as for Super Supplements Founder John Wurts and the retailer’s valuable managers and employees.
What are your thoughts on this acquisition? Share your opinions about the deal and the supplement retailers involved in the comments below.