Shadow: GNC Drinks to Move into Safeway

GNC is moving into Safeway.

No, the ubiquitous chain of health-and-fitness supplement shops isn’t picking up a sublet, but Shadow Beverages, the company that has licensed the GNC name for a line of sports drinks and functional beverages, has gained approvals to move the line into at least 900 Safeway and Safeway-bannered grocery stores in September.

Shadow COO Sam Jones

Expect GNC end-caps in Safeway stores’ non-carb aisles up until February resets, according to Shadow COO Sam Jones.  The brand has largely incubated in Arizona through Kalil Bottling in Tucson, along with New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and parts of Minnesota in smaller chains and convenience stores, but the Safeway move gives it national authorizations.

“We’re comfortable with Safeway piece based off of both small and large format retailing in Arizona,” Jones said. “Quik Trip has all 17 skus, Bashas is doing well, so we’ve got a pretty well-focused process of what skus we need to start with, and what the [later additions] are.”

The GNC brand – which includes 17 SKUs in a white-label “Active” line and a black label “Performance” series – has recently signed up a pair of endorsement deals as well, one with actor Patrick Dempsey’s racing team and another with Arizona Diamondbacks player Brian Roberts. Jones termed Roberts a “local hero” type who might form a template for other distribution markets.

Additionally, Shadow has signed up muscleman Greg Plitt as an affiliated spokesman for GNC stablemate Whey Up. According to Jones, the company attempts to slide Whey Up into distributorships as an adjunct product to the GNC line.