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GNC files for bankruptcy, plans to close up to 1,200 stores

Health and wellness company GNC is planning to close hundreds of stores around the country as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan.

WASHINGTON — GNC Holdings Inc., the parent company of health retailer GNC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection late Tuesday evening. 

The company said it plans to permanently close "at least 800 to 1,200 stores," as part of its restructuring in bankruptcy.  

GNC said in a statement on its website that the business has been under financial pressure for the past several years as its worked to pay down debt, but "the COVID-19 pandemic created a situation where we were unable to accomplish our refinancing and the abrupt change in the operating environment had a dramatic negative impact on our business." 

The company said in a statement that it's looking to restructure its balance sheet at the same time it explores finding a potential buyer, with a minimum purchase price of at least $760 million.

GNC and all of its subsidiaries remain open for business.

The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly tough for a number of major fitness retailers. GNC's announcement comes less than two weeks after nationwide gym chain 24 Hour Fitness files for bankruptcy and detailed plans to close 134 locations. Gold's Gym also announced it would filing for bankruptcy because of coronavirus.  

The company expects to confirm a standalone plan of reorganization or consummate a sale that will allow the business to exit from the bankruptcy process in the fall.

Credit: AP
A couple walks past a GNC store on the company's world headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

In July 2019, GNC said it planned to close up to 900 stores by the end of 2020, with a focus on reducing the number of stores in malls. GNC said on its website that it will announce details regarding closures as the bankruptcy process moves forward. 

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The Pittsburgh-based company currently has more than 4,800 retail locations. 

The company tweeted Wednesday that its stores, as well as its website, remain open to serve customers and they "promise to dedicate every day to finding new ways to raise the bar. This is only the beginning."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.