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Health and Wellness Dealer GNC is planning to close up to 900 stores with large cuts to store locations expected.

Officials in the Pittsburgh based chain talked about their continued "store optimization efforts" under GNC's revenue talks with other analysts on the second quarter Monday.

"I think it is likely that we will reduce the number of malls by almost half," said Tricia Tolivar, GNC CFO. "So we have just over 800 malls today, and in the long term we can bring it closer to 400 to 500."

In the first six months of 2019, company records show 192 company owned and franchise locations have already closed.

GNC officials announced in November 2018 that they would close up to 900 stores over the next three years in the US and Canada when the leases expire. Now that we are looking at current trends in shopping malls, "we are likely to get closer to the top of our original optimization estimate," said GNC chairman and CEO Ken Martindale.

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Over 7,000 closures of stores have already been announced in 2019.

Of GNC's approximately 4,100 US locations, 61% are in strip centers and 28% are in malls, Martindale said, and have noticed the strip center sites "relatively stable from a comparable sales perspective . ”

There are also around 2200 locations in Rite Aid stores and officials said Monday that the company is expanding its partnership with Dick's Sporting Goods and Hudson News.

Overall, retail, more than 7,400 stores closures are already in operation or completed so far in 2019, which is 27% more than the whole of 2018, according to Coresight Research's latest store closure report.

Coresight, which has offices in Manhattan, London and Hong Kong, tracked 5,864 closures in 2018, which included All Toys R Us stores and hundreds of locations in Kmart and Sears

Sales and liquidation of other brands are expected to continue, and Coresight estimates closures to 12,000 by the end of the year, according to report.

Follow US IDAG reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

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