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The following is an excerpt from a 10-K SEC Filing, filed by NBTY INC on 12/1/2008.
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NBTY INC - 10-K - 20081201 - BUSINESS


Item 1.    Business

General

        NBTY, Inc. (together with its subsidiaries, the "Company," "NBTY," "we," or "us") is a leading global vertically integrated manufacturer, marketer and retailer of a broad line of high quality, value-priced nutritional supplements in the United States and throughout the world. We market approximately 25,000 products under numerous brands, including Nature's Bounty®, Vitamin World®, Pure Protein®, Body Fortress®, Puritan's Pride®, Holland & Barrett®, Rexall®, Osteo Bi-Flex®, Flex-A-Min®, Knox®, Sundown®, MET-Rx®, WORLDWIDE Sport Nutrition®, American Health®, DeTuinen®, Le Naturiste TM , SISU®, Solgar®, Physiologics® and Ester-C®. Our vertical integration includes the purchase of raw materials, formulation and manufacture of products, which we then market through the following four channels of distribution:

    Wholesale/US Nutrition operations—distribute products under various US Nutrition brand names and third party private labels, each targeting specific market groups that include mass market retailers, supermarkets, drugstore chains, pharmacies, health and natural food stores, bulk healthcare practitioners, wholesalers, distributors and international customers;

    North American Retail operations—include 441 Vitamin World and Nutrition Warehouse stores selling proprietary brand and third-party products in the United States and our Canadian operation of 81 Le Naturiste stores;

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    European Retail operations—include 526 Holland & Barrett stores, 346 Julian Graves stores, and 31 GNC stores in the UK; 71 DeTuinen stores in the Netherlands; and 19 Nature's Way stores in Ireland, each selling proprietary brand and third-party products; and

    Direct Response/E-Commerce operations—include the sale of proprietary brand and third-party products primarily through mail order catalogs and the internet.

        At September 30, 2008, we manufactured approximately 90% of the nutritional supplements we sold.

        The Company was incorporated in Delaware in 1979 under the name Nature's Bounty, Inc. On March 26, 1995, we changed our name to NBTY, Inc. Our principal executive offices are located at 2100 Smithtown Avenue, Ronkonkoma, New York 11779, our telephone number is (631) 567-9500, and our website is www.nbty.com . Our UK subsidiary, NBTY Europe, Ltd. ("NBTY Europe") has its principal executive offices in Nuneaton, UK, and our Dutch subsidiary, De Tuinen, B.V., has its principal executive offices in Beverwijk, Netherlands.

        Our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and all amendments to these reports filed or furnished under Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act"), are available at no cost on our website. We make these reports available as soon as reasonably practicable after we file them electronically with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC").

Business Strategy

        The Company targets the growing number of value-conscious consumers by offering high-quality products at a value price. Our objectives are to increase sales, improve manufacturing efficiencies, increase profitability and strengthen our market position through the following key strategies.

         Expand and Improve Existing Channels of Distribution.     We plan to continue expanding and improving our existing channels of distribution through aggressive marketing and synergistic acquisitions, to the extent available on terms acceptable to us, to increase our sales and profitability and enhance our overall market share. Specific plans to expand channels of distribution include the following.

    Increase Wholesale Sales in the United States and in Foreign Markets.     We intend to strengthen our wholesale business by continuing to increase sales in our health and natural food, drug, mass merchandising and wholesale club channels by (i) increasing consumer demand for our products through updated websites, continued customer education and enhanced consumer advertising; (ii) increasing revenues from existing customers through strong promotional and training activities, aggressive introduction of new and innovative products and increasing and enhancing product assortments in the majority of our retailers; (iii) increasing shelf space in major retailers; (iv) leveraging the advertising and promotion of our major specialty brands, such as Osteo Bi-Flex®, MET-Rx®, Flex-A-Min®, Knox®, and Ester-C®; and (v) increasing our private label revenue with new customers and timely product deliveries and new product introductions. In addition, we continue to seek new distribution alliances throughout the world for our products, while enhancing and strengthening our existing relationships with our retail partners.

    Improve the Profitability of Retail Sales in North America.     We intend to continue focusing on the development of a nationwide chain of profitable retail stores in the United States and Canada. To that end, at September 30, 2008, we operated 441 Vitamin World and Nutrition Warehouse retail stores in regional and outlet malls throughout the United States, and 81 Le Naturiste retail stores throughout Quebec and New Brunswick, Canada. During fiscal 2008, we opened eight new Vitamin World stores and closed 24 underperforming Vitamin World stores. We also opened one Le Naturiste store. As a result, as of September 30, 2008, we operated 16 fewer

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      Vitamin World stores and one more Le Naturiste store than at September 30, 2007. Although we plan to open up to 20 new Vitamin World stores and one Le Naturiste store during the 2009 fiscal year, we may close up to 13 existing Vitamin World stores during that time. There are 94 Vitamin World retail store leases due to expire during the 2009 fiscal year, and, in an effort to improve profitability, any store whose lease cannot be renegotiated on favorable terms may be closed when its lease expires. We maintain our Savings Passport Card, a customer loyalty program that we believe increases customer traffic and provides incentives to purchase at Vitamin World stores. The Savings Passport Card also helps us track customer preferences and purchasing trends. At the end of fiscal 2008, we had approximately 10 million Savings Passport Card members. In addition, the www.vitaminworld.com site permits customers to locate our retail stores, which we believe increases customer traffic.

    Increase Retail Sales in the UK, Ireland and Europe.     We continue to selectively expand the number of our retail stores throughout the UK. At September 30, 2008, we had 526 Holland & Barrett stores, 346 Julian Graves stores and 31 GNC stores operating in the UK, and 19 Nature's Way stores operating in Ireland. During fiscal 2008, Holland & Barrett opened 19 new stores and relocated 12 stores. We acquired the 346 Julian Graves stores in the UK on September 16, 2008. In addition, at September 30, 2008, there were 71 De Tuinen retail stores operating in the Netherlands, including 22 franchise locations. During fiscal 2008, De Tuinen opened two new stores. We project that, during the next fiscal year, we will open approximately 15 new retail stores in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands as we continue to evaluate opportunities to open additional stores in these regions.

    Increase Direct Response/Puritan's Pride® Sales.     We expect to continue to strengthen the leading position of our Puritan's Pride brand in the direct response/e-commerce business by: (i) continuing to build brand and customer loyalty across catalog and internet channels; (ii) increasing e-commerce activity from a variety of online media channels, including search, e-mail marketing, affiliate marketing and shopping portals; (iii) focusing on enhanced retention and re-activation programs on-line and off-line, while testing new promotions to further improve response rates; (iv) improving the shopping experience available to our customers with website enhancements and call center system upgrades; (v) improving automated picking and packing to fulfill sales order requests with greater speed and accuracy; and (vi) increasing manufacturing capability to quickly introduce and deliver new products in response to customer demand. We also intend to continue our strategy of acquiring the customer lists, brand names and inventory of other mail order companies that have similar or complementary products that we believe we can integrate into our operations efficiently, without adding substantial overhead. We plan to continue introducing direct internet channels that support our brands, such as www.puritan.com, www.vitamin.com, www.hollandandbarrett.com, www.gnc.co.uk, www.lenaturiste.com, www.detuinen.nl and www.vitaminworld.com

         Introduce Innovative New Products.     We have consistently been among the first in the industry to introduce innovative products in response to new science and clinical studies, new technology and consumer preferences. Given the changing nature of consumer and retailer demand for new products and the continued publicity about the importance of vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements in the promotion of general health, we believe that we will continue to maintain our core customer base and attract new health-conscious consumers based upon our ability to respond rapidly to consumer demand with innovative, high quality, value-oriented products.

         Enhance Vertical Integration.     We believe our vertical integration gives us a significant competitive advantage by allowing us to (i) maintain higher quality standards while lowering product costs, which we pass on to our customers as lower prices, (ii) respond to scientific and popular reports and consumer buying trends more quickly, (iii) meet customer delivery schedules more effectively and (iv) improve overall operating margins. We continually evaluate ways to enhance our vertical

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integration by leveraging purchasing, quality control, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, sales and marketing capabilities, and otherwise improving the efficiency of our operations.

         Build Infrastructure to Support Growth.     We have technologically advanced, state-of-the-art manufacturing and production facilities with total production capacity of approximately 63 billion tablets, capsules and softgels per year. We regularly evaluate our manufacturing operations and make investments in infrastructure, as necessary, to support our continuing growth. Our facilities have also been upgraded to comply with applicable GMP requirements. With the acquisition of certain assets of Leiner Health Products, Inc. ("Leiner"), including the acquisition of Vita Health Products, Inc., Leiner's Canadian subsidiary ("Vita Health"), we acquired a number of properties, including a manufacturing facility in Wilson, North Carolina, which we expect to become operational during fiscal 2009. See Item 2. "Properties."

         Implement Strategic Acquisitions.     In the normal course of our business, we seek global acquisition opportunities of companies that complement or extend our existing product lines, increase our market presence, expand our distribution channels, and are compatible with our business philosophy. We have successfully acquired approximately 30 companies or businesses since 1986, enabling us to expand our product lines and scope of distribution significantly. As part of this strategy, on July 14, 2008, we acquired substantially all the nutritional supplement assets of Leiner, and on September 16, 2008, we acquired Julian Graves Inc. ("Julian Graves"), a UK retailer of nuts, fruits and confectionary goods. For more information about our acquisitions, see Item 7. "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," and the notes to our consolidated financial statements in this Report. We will continue to evaluate acquisition opportunities across industry segments and around the world.

         Utilize Management Team Experience.     Our management team has extensive experience in the nutritional supplement industry and has developed long-standing relationships with our suppliers and customers. Our executive officers have an average of over 15 years in the industry. We will continue to utilize the talent, experience and expertise of our management team to realize our goals.

Operating Segments

        We operate in the nutritional supplement industry and are organized along our four channels of distribution, which are: Wholesale/US Nutrition, North American Retail, European Retail and Direct Response/E-Commerce. The following table sets forth the percentage of net sales for each of our operating segments:

 
  Fiscal Year Ended
September 30
 
 
  2008   2007   2006  

Wholesale/US Nutrition

    53 %   48 %   47 %

North American Retail

    9 %   11 %   13 %

European Retail

    28 %   31 %   30 %

Direct Response/E-Commerce

    10 %   10 %   10 %
               

    100 %   100 %   100 %

        Additional information about our financial results by segment can be found in Note 22 to the consolidated financial statements in this Report.

         Wholesale/US Nutrition.     We market our products under various brand names, each targeting special market groups, which include leading mass merchandisers, drug store chains and supermarkets, wholesale clubs, independent pharmacies, health food stores, health food store wholesalers, the military and other retailers. We sell Nature's Bounty®, Rexall®, Sundown®, Osteo Bi-Flex®, MET-Rx®,

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Flex-A-Min®, Knox®, and Ester-C® brands to mass merchandisers, drug store chains, drug wholesalers, supermarket chains and wholesalers. In addition, we manufacture private label brands for many leading retailers. We also sell directly to health and natural food stores under the Solgar®, SISU® and Good 'N Natural® brands, and sell products, including a specialty line of vitamins, to health food wholesalers under our American Health® brand. Additionally, we sell our Physiologics® brand products directly to healthcare practitioners. Over the past several years, we have expanded our international product sales of our US wholesale brands to include many countries throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

         North American Retail.     At the end of fiscal 2008, we operated 441 Vitamin World and Nutrition Warehouse retail stores in regional and outlet malls throughout the United States, and 81 Le Naturiste retail stores throughout Canada. Each store carries a full line of our branded products, as well as products manufactured by others. Nutritional supplement products that we manufactured accounted for approximately 64% of North American Retail's total sales in fiscal 2008. Our direct interaction with our retail customers helps us identify regional buying trends, customer preferences, product acceptances and price trends. We use this information in initiating sales programs and new product introductions for all our divisions. In addition, our direct response segment maintains the website www.vitaminworld.com , which permits our customers to purchase our nutritional supplements through the internet and to locate our retail stores.

         European Retail.     We generate revenue through the retail operations from 526 Holland & Barrett stores, 346 Julian Graves stores and 31 GNC stores in the UK, 19 Nature's Way stores in Ireland, and 71 DeTuinen stores in the Netherlands. Holland & Barrett, one of the UK's leading nutritional supplement retailers, markets a broad line of nutritional supplement products, including vitamins, minerals and other nutritional supplements. Our Nature's Way® product offerings are similar to those of Holland & Barrett. GNC (UK) stores specialize in vitamins, minerals and sports nutrition products. Julian Graves, which we acquired on September 16, 2008, is a UK retailer of nuts, fruits and confectionery goods. De Tuinen is a leading retailer of health food products, selected confectionery, and lifestyle giftware.

         Direct Response/E-Commerce.     We offer, through mail order and e-commerce, a full line of vitamins and other nutritional supplement products as well as selected personal care items, under our Puritan's Pride® and other brand names, at prices that are generally at a discount from those of similar products sold in retail stores. Through our Puritan's Pride® brand, we are a leader in the US direct response nutritional supplement industry. We have more than 2.9 million customers on our direct-response customer list, with response rates that we believe are above the industry average. In addition, we offer products focusing on our other brands through other direct channel sites, such as www.vitaminworld.com, www.lenaturiste.com, www.hollandandbarrett.com and www.gnc.co.uk . We intend to attract new customers in our direct response operation through aggressive marketing techniques in the United States and around the world, and through selective acquisitions. We regularly update our mail order lists by adding new customers and deleting those who have not placed orders within a designated period of time. We believe this maximizes catalog sales while reducing mailing and printing costs. We also advertise in newspaper supplements and conduct insert programs with other mail order companies to add new customers to our mailing lists and websites, and to increase the average order size. Our use of state-of-the-art equipment, such as computerized mailing, bar-coded addresses and automated picking and packing systems, enables us to process orders quickly, economically and efficiently. Typically, we fill orders within 24 hours of receipt. Our equipment and expertise also lowers our per-customer distribution costs, thereby enhancing margins and enabling us to lower our prices. Our www.puritan.com and www.vitamins.com websites provide a practical and convenient method for consumers wishing to purchase products that promote healthy living. Through these websites, consumers have access to more than 1,500 products offered through our Puritan's Pride® mail order catalog.

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        See Item 7. "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," and the notes to our consolidated financial statements in this Report, for financial information about the geographic areas where we conduct our business.

Employees and Advertising

        As of September 30, 2008, we employed approximately 13,760 persons, including:

    2,029 sales associates located throughout the United States in our Vitamin World and Nutrition Warehouse retail stores;

    3,741 manufacturing, shipping and packaging associates throughout the United States;

    795 associates in administration throughout the United States;

    172 associates who sell to wholesale distributors and customers;

    79 in-house advertising associates;

    3,404 associates in our Holland & Barrett operations;

    412 associates in our De Tuinen operations;

    170 associates in GNC (UK) retail stores;

    1,652 associates in Julian Graves operations;

    105 associates in Nature's Way retail stores;

    304 associates in Le Naturiste operations;

    265 associates in direct response operations;

    79 associates in SISU operations (including 27 manufacturing associates in Canada);

    404 associates in Vita Health operations (including 353 manufacturing associates in Canada);

    55 associates in NBTY international operations; and

    95 associates in Solgar international operations.

        In addition, we sell products through commissioned sales representative organizations. We believe we have satisfactory employee and labor relations.

        For the fiscal years ended September 30, 2008, 2007 and 2006, we spent approximately $140 million, $120 million and $104 million, respectively, on advertising and promotions, including print, media and cooperative advertising. We create our own advertising materials through our in-house staff of associates. In the UK and Ireland, Holland & Barrett, Julian Graves, and Nature's Way advertise on television and in national newspapers, and conduct sales promotions. GNC (UK) and De Tuinen also advertise in newspapers and conduct sales promotions. In addition, Holland & Barrett and De Tuinen each publish their own magazines with articles and promotional materials. Internationally, Solgar and SISU advertise in trade journals and magazines, operate websites, and conducts sales promotions.

Manufacturing, Distribution and Quality Control

        At September 30, 2008, we employed approximately 3,741 manufacturing, shipping and packaging associates throughout the United States and 380 such associates in Canada. We manufacture domestically in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina in the US. In addition, we manufacture internationally in Burnaby and Manitoba, Canada, and Burton in the UK. We have technologically advanced, state-of-the-art manufacturing and production facilities, with

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total production capacity of approximately 63 billion tablets, capsules and softgels per year. With the Leiner and Vita Health acquisitions, we acquired properties in North Carolina and in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, as well as a number of additional leased properties in California and Canada. See Item 2. "Properties."

        All our domestic manufacturing operations are subject to good manufacturing practice regulations ("GMPs"), promulgated by the United States Food and Drug Administration ("FDA"), and other applicable regulatory standards. We are subject to similar regulations and standards in Canada. We believe our manufacturing processes comply with the new GMPs for dietary supplements, effective for us in June 2008, as well as, where relevant, existing GMP's for over the counter ("OTC") drugs or foods. We believe our manufacturing and distribution facilities generally are adequate to meet our current business requirements and our currently anticipated sales.

        We place special emphasis on quality control. We assign lot numbers to all raw materials and initially hold them in quarantine, while our laboratory chemists assay them for compliance with established specifications. Once released, samples are retained, and we process the material according to approved formulae by blending, mixing, technical processing as necessary, and production in final delivery form as a capsule, tablet, powder, softgel or liquid. After a tablet or capsule is manufactured, laboratory chemists and technicians test its weight, purity, potency, disintegration and dissolution, if applicable. We hold the product in quarantine until we complete this analytical evaluation, and determine that the product meets all applicable specifications. When the manufactured product meets all specifications, our automated packaging equipment packages the product with at least one tamper-evident safety seal and affixes a label and an indelible lot number and expiration date. We use sophisticated computer-generated documentation for picking and packing for order fulfillment.

        Our manufacturing operations are designed to allow low-cost production of a wide variety of products of different quantities, sizes and packaging, while maintaining a high level of customer service and quality. Flexible production line changeover capabilities and reduced cycle times allow us to respond quickly to changes in manufacturing schedules.

         Inventory Control.     We have installed inventory control systems at our facilities that track each product as we receive it from our supply sources through manufacturing and shipment of each product to customers. To facilitate this tracking, most products we sell are bar coded. Our inventory control systems report shipping, sales and individual stock keeping unit (SKU) level inventory information. We manage the retail sales process by monitoring customer sales and inventory levels by product category. We believe our distribution capabilities increase our flexibility in responding to our customers' delivery requirements. Our purchasing staff regularly reviews and analyzes information from our point-of-sale computer system and makes merchandise allocation and markdown decisions based on this information. We use an automated reorder system to maintain in-stock positions on key items. These systems give us the information we need to determine the proper timing and quantity of reorders.

         Financial Reporting.     Our financial reporting systems provide us with detailed financial reporting to support our operating decisions and cost control efforts. These systems provide functions such as payment scheduling, application of payment receipts, general ledger interface, vendor tracking and flexible reporting options.

Research and Development

        We did not expend material amounts for research and development of new products during the last three years.

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Competition; Customers

        The market for nutritional supplement products is highly competitive. Competition is based primarily on price, quality and assortment of products, customer service, marketing support, and availability of new products. We believe we compete favorably in all these areas.

        Our direct competition consists of publicly and privately owned companies, which tend to be highly fragmented in terms of both geographic market coverage and product categories. In addition, we compete with companies that may have broader product lines, larger sales volumes, or both. Our products also compete with nationally advertised brand name products. Most national brand companies have resources greater than we do.

        There are numerous companies in the vitamin and nutritional supplement industry selling products to retailers, including mass merchandisers, drug store chains, independent drug stores, supermarkets and health food stores. Many companies within the industry are privately held. Therefore, we cannot assess precisely the size of all our competitors, or where we rank in comparison to such privately held competitors with respect to sales to retailers.

        During fiscal 2008, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. ("Wal-Mart") accounted for 22% of the Wholesale/US Nutrition division's net sales and 12% of the Company's consolidated net sales. As of September 30, 2008, Wal-Mart accounted for 19% of the Wholesale/US Nutrition division's total gross accounts receivable. The loss of Wal-Mart, or any other major customer, would have a material adverse effect on the Company if we were unable to replace that customer.

Government Regulation

         United States.     The formulation, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, advertising, distribution and sale of our products are subject to regulation by federal agencies, including the FDA, the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC"), the United States Postal Service ("USPS"), the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"). These activities also are subject to regulation by various agencies of the states, localities and foreign countries in which our products are sold. In particular, the FDA, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the "FDCA"), regulates the registration, formulation, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, distribution and sale of foods, including dietary supplements, vitamins, minerals and herbs, cosmetics and OTC drugs. The FTC regulates the advertising of these products, and the USPS regulates advertising claims with respect to such products sold by mail order. The National Advertising Division ("NAD") of the Council of Better Business Bureaus oversees an industry-sponsored self-regulatory system that permits competitors to resolve disputes over advertising claims. The NAD has no enforcement authority of its own, but may refer matters that it views as violating FTC guides or rules to the FTC for further action.

        The FDCA has been amended several times with respect to dietary supplements, in particular by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, known as DSHEA. DSHEA established a new framework governing the composition and labeling of dietary supplements. With respect to composition, DSHEA defines "dietary supplements" as vitamins, minerals, herbs, other botanicals, amino acids and other dietary substances for human use to supplement the diet, as well as concentrates, constituents, extracts or combinations of such dietary ingredients. Generally, under DSHEA, dietary ingredients that were marketed in the United States before October 15, 1994 may be used in dietary supplements without notifying the FDA. However, a "new" dietary ingredient (a dietary ingredient that was not marketed in the United States before October 15, 1994) must be the subject of a new dietary ingredient notification submitted to the FDA unless the ingredient has been "present in the food supply as an article used for food" without being "chemically altered." A new dietary ingredient notification must provide the FDA evidence of a "history of use or other evidence of safety" establishing that use of the dietary ingredient "will reasonably be expected to be safe." A new dietary

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ingredient notification must be submitted to the FDA at least 75 days before the initial marketing of the new dietary ingredient. There can be no assurance that the FDA will accept the evidence of safety for any new dietary ingredients that we may want to market, and the FDA's refusal to accept such evidence could prevent the marketing of such dietary ingredients. The FDA is in the process of developing guidance for the industry to clarify the FDA's interpretation of the new dietary ingredient notification requirements, and this guidance may raise new and significant regulatory barriers for new dietary ingredients. In addition, increased FDA enforcement could lead the FDA to challenge dietary ingredients already on the market as "illegal" under the FDCA because of the failure to submit a new dietary ingredient notification.

        The FDA generally prohibits the use in labeling for a dietary supplement of any "health claim," correlating use of the product with a decreased risk of disease, unless the claim is pre-approved or authorized by the FDA. DSHEA permits "statements of nutritional support" to be included in labeling for dietary supplements without FDA pre-approval. Such statements may describe how a particular dietary ingredient affects the structure, function or general well-being of the body, or the mechanism of action by which a dietary ingredient may affect body structure, function or well-being (but may not state that a dietary supplement will diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent a disease). A company that uses a statement of nutritional support in labeling must possess evidence substantiating that the statement is truthful and not misleading. When such a claim is made on labels, it is necessary to disclose on the label that the FDA has not "evaluated" the statement, to disclose that the product is not intended for use for a disease, and to notify the FDA about our use of the statement within 30 days of marketing the product. However, there can be no assurance that the FDA will not determine that a particular statement of nutritional support that we want to use is an "unauthorized health or disease claim" or an unauthorized version of a "health claim." Such a determination might prevent us from using the claim.

        In addition, DSHEA provides that certain so-called "third-party literature," such as a reprint of a peer-reviewed scientific publication linking a particular dietary ingredient with health benefits, may be used "in connection with the sale of a dietary supplement to consumers" without the literature being subject to regulation as labeling. Such literature must not be, among other things, false or misleading; the literature may not promote a particular manufacturer or brand of dietary supplement; and a balanced view of the available scientific information on the subject matter must be presented. There can be no assurance, however, that all third-party literature that we would like to disseminate in connection with our products will satisfy all the requirements, and failure to satisfy all requirements could prevent use of the literature or subject the product involved to regulation as an unapproved drug.

        As authorized by DSHEA, the FDA adopted GMPs specifically for Dietary Supplements. These new GMP regulations, which became effective in June 2008, are more detailed than the GMPs that previously applied to dietary supplements and require, among other things, dietary supplements to be prepared, packaged and held in compliance with specific rules, and require quality control provisions similar to those in the GMP regulations for drugs. We believe our manufacturing and distribution practices comply with the new rules.

        Although the regulation of dietary supplements in some respects is less restrictive than the regulation of drugs, there can be no assurance that dietary supplements will continue to be subject to less restrictive regulation. Effective December 2007, the Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection Act (the "AER Act"), amended the FDCA to require that manufacturers, packers, and distributors of dietary supplements and OTC drugs report serious adverse events to FDA. We believe we comply with the AER Act.

        The FDA regulates the registration, formulation, manufacturing, packaging, labeling and distribution of OTC drug products under a "monograph" system that specifies active drug ingredients that are generally recognized as safe and effective for particular uses and provides for specific required

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or permitted labeling information. If an OTC drug is not in compliance with the applicable FDA monograph, the product generally cannot be sold without first obtaining the FDA approval of a new drug application, a long and expensive procedure. We believe we comply with the OTC monographs where relevant. There can be no assurance that, if more stringent statutes are enacted for dietary supplements, or if more stringent regulations are promulgated, we will be able to comply with such statutes or regulations without incurring substantial expense.

        The FDA has broad authority to enforce the provisions of the FDCA applicable to foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics and OTC drugs, including powers to issue a public "warning letter" to a company, to publicize information about illegal products, to request a voluntary recall of illegal products from the market, and to request the Department of Justice to initiate a seizure action, an injunction action, or a criminal prosecution in the US courts.

        The FTC exercises jurisdiction over the advertising of foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics and OTC drugs. In recent years, the FTC has instituted numerous enforcement actions against dietary supplement companies for failure to adequately substantiate claims made in advertising or for the use of false or misleading advertising claims. These enforcement actions have often resulted in consent decrees and the payment of civil penalties, restitution, or both, by the companies involved. We currently are subject to FTC consent decrees resulting from past advertising claims for certain of our products. Our subsidiary, Rexall Sundown, also is currently subject to FTC consent decrees resulting from past advertising claims for certain of its products. As a result, we are required to maintain compliance with these decrees and are subject to an injunction and substantial civil monetary penalties if there should be any failure to comply. We and certain of our subsidiaries also are subject to consent judgments under the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (also known as "Proposition 65"). Further, the Postal Service has issued cease and desist orders against certain mail order advertising claims made by dietary supplement manufacturers, including us, and we are required to maintain compliance with the orders applicable to us, subject to civil monetary penalties for any noncompliance. Violations of these orders could result in substantial monetary penalties. These civil penalty actions could have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial position and results of operations.

        We also are subject to regulation under various state and local laws that include provisions governing, among other things, the registration, formulation, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, advertising and distribution of foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics and OTC drugs.

        In addition, from time to time in the future, we may become subject to additional laws or regulations administered by the FDA or by other federal, state, local or foreign regulatory authorities, to the repeal of laws or regulations that we consider favorable, such as DSHEA, or to more stringent interpretations of current laws or regulations. We are not able to predict the nature of future laws, regulations, repeals or interpretations, and we cannot predict what effect additional governmental regulation, when and if it occurs, would have on our business in the future. Such developments, however, could require reformulation of certain products to meet new standards, recalls or discontinuance of certain products not able to be reformulated, additional record-keeping requirements, increased documentation of the properties of certain products, additional or different labeling, additional scientific substantiation, additional personnel, or other new requirements. Any such development could have a material adverse effect on us.

         European Union.     In the European Union ("EU"), the European Union Commission is responsible for developing legislation to regulate foodstuffs and medicines. Although the government of each Member State may implement legislation governing these products, national legislation must be compatible with, and cannot be more restrictive than, European requirements. Each Member State is responsible for its enforcement of the provisions of European and national legislation.

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        In July 2002, the EU published in its Official Journal the final text of a Food Supplements Directive (the "Supplements Directive"), which became effective in the EU at that time and which sets out a process and timetable by which the Member States must bring their domestic legislation in line with its provisions. The Supplements Directive seeks to harmonize the regulation of the composition, labeling and marketing of food supplements (at this stage only vitamins and minerals) throughout the EU. It does this by specifying what nutrients and nutrient sources may be used (and by interpretation the rest which may not), and the labeling and other information which must be provided on packaging. In addition, the Supplements Directive is intended to regulate the levels at which these nutrients may be present in a supplement. These maximum permitted levels are due to be announced in 2009.

        By harmonizing Member State legislation, the Supplements Directive should provide opportunities for businesses to market one product or a range of products to a larger number of potential customers without having to reformulate or repackage it. This development may lead to some liberalizing of the more restrictive regimes in France and Germany, providing new business opportunities. Conversely, however, it may limit the range of nutrients and nutrient sources substantially, and eventually the potencies at which some nutrients may be marketed by us in the more liberal countries, such as the UK, which may lead to some reformulation costs and loss of some specialty products.

        On April 30, 2004, the EU published the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (the "Herbal Products Directive") which requires traditional herbal medicines to be registered in each Member State in which they are intended to be marketed. A registration requires a product be manufactured to pharmaceutical GMP standards; however, generally, there is no need to demonstrate efficacy, provided that the product is safe, is manufactured to high standards, and has a history of supply on the market for 30 years, 15 years of which must be in the EU. The Herbal Products Directive is intended to provide a safe harbor in EU law for a number of categories of herbal remedies, which may otherwise be found to fall outside EU law. However, it does not provide a mechanism for new product development, and would entail some compliance costs in registering the many herbal products already on the market. Member States had to put into place the provisions for national compliance by October 2005, the date on which Traditional Herbal Medicinal products, as defined in the Herbal Products Directive, could begin to be registered. Full compliance is required by April 2011.

        On December 30, 2006, the EU published the Nutrition and Health Claim Regulation to apply from July 1, 2007. The Regulation controls nutrition and health claims by means of positive lists of authorized claims that can be made in advertising, labeling and presentation of all foods, including food supplements, together with the criteria a product must meet to use them. Under transitional arrangements in the Regulation, claims already in use before January 1, 2006, and complying with existing national legislation can continue to be made for up to three years. Industry has worked together to submit over 700 claims and the European Food Safety Authority will produce a community list of accepted claims in 2010.

        Additional European legislation is being developed to regulate sports nutrition products, including the composition of such products. In particular, such legislation could restrict the type of nutrients we may use in our products. Legislation introducing maximum permitted levels for nutrients in fortified foods is also under discussion together with legislation introducing a positive list for enzymes. These proposals, if implemented, could require us to reformulate our existing products. Also, proposals to amend medicine legislation will impact traditional herbal medicines and introduce new requirements, such as Braille labeling, which may lead to higher associated costs.

         United Kingdom.     In the United Kingdom, the two main pieces of legislation that affect the operations of Holland & Barrett, Julian Graves, and GNC (UK) are the Medicines Act 1968, which regulates the licensing and sale of medicines, and the Food Safety Act 1990, which provides for the safety of food products. A large volume of secondary legislation in the form of Statutory Instruments

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adds detail to the main provisions of these Acts, governing composition, packaging, labeling and advertising of products.

        In the UK regulatory system, a product intended to be taken orally will fall within either the category of food or the category of medicine. There is currently no special category of dietary supplement as provided for in the United States by DSHEA. Some products which are intended to be applied externally, for example creams and ointments, may be classified as medicines and others as cosmetics.

        The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, now has responsibility for the implementation and enforcement of the Medicines Act, and is the licensing authority for medicinal products. The MHRA directly employs enforcement officers from a wide range of backgrounds, including the police, and with a wide range of skills, including information technology. However, the MHRA still relies heavily on competitor complaints to identify non-compliant products. The MHRA is an Executive Agency of the Department of Health. The MHRA decides whether a product is a medicine or not and, if so, considers whether it can be licensed. It determines the status of a product by considering whether it is medicinal by "presentation" or by "function." Many, though not all, herbal remedies are considered "medicinal" by virtue of these two criteria.

        The Food Standards Agency, or FSA, deals with legislation, policy and oversight of food products, with enforcement action in most situations being handled by local authority Trading Standards Officers. The large number of local authorities in the UK can lead to an inconsistent approach to enforcement. Unlike the MHRA, local authorities regularly purchase products and analyze them to identify issues of non-compliance. The FSA answers primarily to Ministers at the Department of Health and the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs. Most vitamin and mineral supplements, and some products with herbal ingredients, are considered to be food supplements and fall under general food law which requires them to be safe. Despite the differences in approaches in identifying non-compliant products, both the MHRA and local authorities can, and do, prosecute where issues of non-compliance are identified.

         Ireland.     The legislative and regulatory situation in the Republic of Ireland is similar, but not identical, to that in the UK. The Irish Medicines Board has a similar role to that of the UK's MHRA and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland is analogous to the UK's FSA. Ireland has been required to bring its domestic legislation into line with the provisions of the Supplements Directive and the Herbal Products Directive. Thus, the market prospects for Ireland, in general, are similar to those outlined in the UK.

         Netherlands.     The regulatory environment in the Netherlands is similar to the UK in terms of availability of products. The Netherlands currently has the same liberal market, with no restrictions on potency of nutrients. Licensed herbal medicines are available. However, there are some herbal medicines which are sold freely as in the UK without the need to be licensed, depending on the claims made for them. The Netherlands also is more liberal regarding certain substances, for which unlicensed sales are allowed. The government department dealing with this sector is the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Sport.

        Responsibility for food safety falls to the Keuringsdienst van Waren (Inspectorate for Health Protection and Veterinary Public Health), which deals with all nutritional products. The Medicines Evaluation Board, which is the equivalent of the UK's MHRA, is charged with responsibility for the safety of medicines which are regulated under the Supply of Medicines Act.

        The overall market prospects for the Netherlands, in general, are similar to those outlined for the UK above, with the exception of only a four-year transitional period granted for the registration of Traditional Herbal Medicinal products which are currently on sale in the Netherlands and which fall within the scope of the Herbal Products Directive.

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         Canada.     The product safety, quality, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, storage, importation, advertising, distribution, sale and clinical trials of natural health products ("NHPs") and drugs are subject to regulation primarily under the Canadian Food and Drugs Act (the "Canadian FDA") and associated regulations, including the Canadian Food and Drug Regulations and the Natural Health Products Regulations (collectively, the "Canadian Regulations"), and related Health Canada Guidance Documents and Policies. In addition, NHPs and drugs are regulated under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act if the product is considered a "controlled substance" or a "precursor," as defined in that Act and related regulatory provisions. Health Canada is primarily responsible for administering these acts and regulations (collectively, the "Canadian Legislation").

        Effective January 1, 2004, each NHP must have a product license issued by Health Canada before it can be sold in Canada, subject to certain transition periods. NHPs which had a drug identification number ("DIN") under the prior Canadian Regulations can continue to be sold without a license until December 31, 2009. Health Canada assigns a natural health product number ("NPN") to each NHP once Health Canada issues the license for that NHP. The Canadian Regulations require that all NHPs be manufactured, packaged, labeled, imported, distributed and stored under GMPs, and that all premises used for manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing NHPs have a site license, which requires GMP compliance. The Canadian Regulations also set out requirements for labeling, packaging, clinical trials and adverse reaction reporting.

        Health Canada, in its "Compliance Policy for Natural Health Products" policy, provides that Health Canada will focus compliance actions against those NHPs that do not have a product license submission number and to those products that Health Canada believes pose a health risk. If Health Canada refuses to issue a product license, the NHP can no longer be sold in Canada until Health Canada issues a product license. The policy is not to be construed as authorization to sell any NHP that does not have a product license, and Health Canada can exercise its authority to stop the sale of unlicensed NHPs, or NHP sales that otherwise fail to comply with Canadian Legislation at any time. Health Canada can change this policy at any time, but it is expected to remain in force until early 2010. We have adopted a compliance strategy to adhere to Health Canada's compliance policy.

        The Canadian FDA and Canadian Regulations also set out requirements for establishment licenses and market authorization for drugs. Subject to certain exceptions, establishment licenses are required by fabricators, packagers/labelers, distributors, importers and wholesalers of drugs. With regard to market authorization, the exact requirements and time frame for obtaining market authorization vary depending on the drug product.

        The Canadian Legislation, among other things, governs the fabrications, formulation, packaging, labeling, advertising and sale of NHPs and drugs, and regulates what may be represented on labels and in promotional materials regarding the claimed properties of products. The Canadian Legislation also require NHPs and drugs sold in Canada to affix a label showing specified information, such as the proper and common name of the medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients and its source, the name and address of the manufacturer/product license holder, its lot number, adequate directions for use, a quantitative list of its medical ingredients and its expiration date. In addition, the Canadian Legislation requires labeling to bear evidence of the marketing authorization as evidenced by the designation DIN, "DIN-HM" (drug identification number—homeopathic medicine), or NPN, followed by an eight-digit number assigned to the product and issued by Health Canada. Health Canada approval for marketing authorization can take time. The approval time of NHPs and drugs can vary depending on the product and the application or submission. For NHPs the Canadian Regulations indicate that certain product licenses should be processed within 60 days. However, the regulations also include provisions to extend this time frame if, for example, more information is required. There can be significant delays.

        Health Canada can perform routine and unannounced inspections of companies in the industry to ensure compliance with the Canadian Legislation. The overall risk factors and market prospects for Canada, in general, are similar to those in the United States, as outlined above. Health Canada can

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suspend or revoke licenses for lack of compliance. In addition, if Health Canada perceives the product to present an unacceptable level of risk, they can also impose fines and jail terms.

        On April 8, 2008, the Canadian Government tabled Bill C-51: An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act. If pursued, among other things, the bill will create new offenses relating to food, therapeutic products (including drugs and potentially NHP's) and cosmetics, formalizes certain licensing and prior authorization requirements, provides a framework for on-going compliance monitoring and disclosure of personal and confidential business information in certain circumstances. If passed, we would need to adapt our practices to comply with any new legislative and regulatory requirements.

International Operations

        In addition to the United States, Canada, the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands, we market nutritional supplement products through subsidiaries, distributors, retailers and direct mail in more than 75 countries throughout Europe, Central America, South America, Asia, the Pacific Rim countries, Africa and the Caribbean Islands.

        We conduct our international operations to conform to local variations, economic realities, market customs, consumer habits and regulatory environments. Our products (including labeling of such products) and our distribution and marketing programs are modified in response to local and foreign legal requirements and customer preferences.

        Our international operations are subject to many of the same risks our domestic operations face. These include competition and the strength of the relevant economy. In addition, international operations are subject to certain risks inherent in conducting business abroad, including foreign regulatory restrictions, fluctuations in monetary exchange rates, import-export controls and the economic and political policies of foreign governments. Government regulations in foreign countries may prevent or delay the introduction, or require the reformulation, of certain of our products. Compliance with such foreign governmental regulations is generally the responsibility of our distributors in those countries. These distributors are independent contractors whom we do not control. The importance of these risks increases as our international operations grow and expand. Virtually all our international operations are affected by foreign currency fluctuations, and, more particularly, changes in the value of the British pound, the euro and the Canadian dollar as compared to the US dollar.

        See Item 7. "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," and the notes to our consolidated financial statements contained in this Report for additional information regarding the geographic areas in which we conduct our business.

Trademarks and Patents

         United States.     We have developed many brand names and trademarks for products in all areas. We consider the overall protection of our patent, trademark, license and other intellectual property rights to be of material value and we vigorously protect these rights from infringement. We have applied for or registered more than 2,400 trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or the PTO, and worldwide in various foreign trademark offices for our Nature's Bounty®, Vitamin World®, Pure Protein®, Body Fortress®, Puritan's Pride®, Holland & Barrett®, Rexall®, Sundown®, Solgar®, MET-Rx®, WORLDWIDE Sport Nutrition®, American Health®, SISU®, Flex-A-Min®, Osteo Bi-Flex®, Physiologics®, Leiner® and Ester-C® trademarks, among others. We also have rights to use other names essential to our business. Federally registered trademarks in the US have a perpetual life, as long as they are maintained and renewed on a timely basis and used properly as trademarks, subject to the rights of third parties to seek cancellation of the trademarks if they claim priority or confusion of usage. Most foreign trademark offices use similar trademark renewal practices.

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        We hold 70 patents, including 41 patents using Ester-C®, in the US and internationally. We also are prosecuting patent applications actively on a world-wide basis for a number of products, particularly products that include ESTER-C® as an active ingredient. We regard our trademarks and other proprietary rights as valuable assets and believe they have significant value in marketing our products. We vigorously protect our trademarks and patents against infringement.

         Canada.     Each of our Solgar, Le Naturiste, Vita Health and SISU subsidiaries owns the trademarks registered in Canada for its respective names.

         UK/Ireland.     Our Holland & Barrett subsidiary owns trademarks registered in the UK and throughout the EU for its Holland & Barrett® and Nature's Way® trademarks, and has rights to use other names essential to its business. Holland & Barrett is the exclusive licensee of the trademarks essential to the GNC (UK) business in the UK. Our Solgar subsidiary owns trademarks in the UK and throughout the EU, and our Julian Graves subsidiary owns the Community Trademark on its name, which is in force throughout the EU.

         Netherlands.     Our De Tuinen subsidiary owns trademarks registered in the Netherlands, and its Community Trademark which is in force throughout the EU for its DeTuinen® trademarks and has rights to use other names essential to its business.

Raw Materials

        In fiscal 2008, we spent approximately $517 million on raw materials. The principal raw materials required in our operations are vitamins, minerals, herbs, gelatin and packaging components. We purchased the majority of our vitamins, minerals and herbs from raw material manufacturers and distributors in the United States, Japan, China, Europe, India, Canada, Australia and South America. We believe that there are adequate sources of supply for all our principal raw materials. From time to time, weather or unpredictable fluctuations in the supply and demand may affect price, quantity, availability or selection of raw materials. We believe that our strong relationships with our suppliers yield high-quality, competitive pricing and overall good service to our customers. Although we cannot be sure that our sources of supply for our principal raw materials will be adequate in all circumstances, we believe that we can develop alternate sources in a timely and cost effective manner if our current sources become inadequate. During fiscal 2008, no one supplier accounted for more than 10% of our raw material purchases. Due to the availability of numerous alternative suppliers, we do not believe that the loss of any single supplier would have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial condition or results of operations.

Seasonality

        Although we believe that our business is not seasonal in nature, historically, we have experienced, and expect to continue to experience, a substantial variation in our net sales and operating results from quarter to quarter. We believe that the factors that influence this variability of quarterly results include general economic and industry conditions affecting consumer spending, changing consumer demands and current news on nutritional supplements, the timing of our introduction of new products, promotional program incentives offered to customers, the timing of catalog promotions, the level of consumer acceptance of new products and actions of competitors. Accordingly, a comparison of our results of operations from consecutive periods is not necessarily meaningful, and our results of operations for any period are not necessarily indicative of future performance. Additionally, we may experience higher net sales in a quarter depending upon when we have engaged in significant promotional activities.

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