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General Nutrition Center (GNC)



The Situation

GNC, the largest global retailer of nutritional products, including vitamins, minerals, herbs and other specialty supplements, is undergoing a major green makeover. The 75-year-old retailer instantly realized that lighting was an enormous opportunity to reduce its energy use at its 107-year-old Pittsburgh headquarters and it’s over 2,000 company-owned stores in the US and Canada. Always open to new and cutting edge technologies, GNC employed a variety of lighting solutions throughout the years, including compact fluorescent (CFL), halogen, and infrared (IR), but wanted an even more energy-efficient turnkey solution to meet both the cost and aesthetic needs of its stores.


The Solution

With an average store size of 1,400 square feet, GNC recognized an opportunity to achieve significant savings by updating its lighting to LED technology in its 2,700 North American stores. As GNC’s longtime lamp distribution partner, City Lighting Products Company has worked with North American lighting leader OSRAM SYLVANIA to help the retailer make energy efficient lighting choices for nearly 15 years. When City Lighting and OSRAM SYLVANIA first introduced LEDs to the retailer, the cost of the technology was too great a barrier to make the upgrade, but as LED technology advanced, OSRAM SYLVANIA and City Lighting worked together to educate GNC on the cost and energy-efficiency advantages of LEDs. When the LED retrofit lamps - the ULTRA High Performance Series from OSRAM SYLVANIA was introduced to the market, GNC realized the advantages from both an environmental and total cost of ownership angle, and decided to relamp all North American stores.

“LEDs are changing the distribution of lighting products,” said Chris Schmalzried, City Lighting VP & General Manager Pittsburgh. “It took three years for the product technology and cost to match GNC’s quality needs and budget requirements; education was instrumental in making the case for LED technology. While GNC is an early LED adaptor in the retail market segment, the pressure is on for us [the industry] to provide LED solutions at a rapid pace and keep our customers knowledgeable of changes.”



Prior to the retrofit project, GNC stores used 75W halogen PAR lamps. Beginning in July 2010, the retailer began the installation of 55,000 OSRAM SYLVANIA ULTRA High Performance Series PAR 30 LED retrofit lamps in its corporate headquarters and North American stores. Using only 15W, the LED retrofit lamps are not only energy-efficient, but provide the excellent aesthetics needed in the retail environment. To date, GNC employees have installed anywhere from 10-50 lamps into 1,500 of the stores, with plans to complete the retrofits in all remaining locations over the next three to four months. Additionally, City Lighting has helped to develop lighting specifications for all future GNC stores using OSRAM SYLVANIA LED technology.

“We really commend GNC for being good stewards of innovative technology that supports their environmental commitment and continued efforts in reducing their carbon footprint,” said Phil Rioux, General Manager of LED retrofit products. “Our SYLVANIA 15W LED retrofit lamps are superior to most on the market and help GNC achieve their energy goals by cutting their lighting energy consumption by over half.”


The Green Effect

Reduced energy consumption for lighting by more than half.

Made the LED relamping project a major pillar of GNC's new energy management program, which includes changes in the company's recycling, paper management and transportation practices.


The Bottom Line

In less than one year, GNC will receive a full return on investment in the LED relamping project and will save approximately $1 million annually. Additionally, GNC was able to take advantage of incentives offered by the state of California for upgrading to LED technology.