Source: Detroit Free Press 4/8/2014

Detroit Free Press Reports ViSalus in Sales Spiral

By JC Reindl, Detroit Free Press Business Writer

The founders of Troy-based nutritional supplement company ViSalus have spent the past 18 months trying to pull their once high-flying business out of its tailspin.

But ViSalus' sales have continued to plummet since reaching $623 million in 2012, raising questions about the company's future in weight-loss shakes and energy supplements and whether it can ever recapture the buzz and excitement of two summers ago.

ViSalus was once among the fastest-growing direct selling companies in the world and the second largest in Michigan after industry heavyweight Amway, based in Ada Township outside Grand Rapids. It employed 420 people in Troy as recently as last year.

Similar to Amway, Herbalife, and others in the industry, ViSalus' distributors earn commissions based on their product sales to customers, as well as on sales made by and to other ViSalus distributors, whom they've recruited to join the company as part of their "downline."

The company's sales fell 44% in 2013 to $351 million, according to its latest financial results released March 14 by ViSalus's parent company, Greenwich, Conn.-based Blyth. ViSalus' $63 million in fourth quarter revenue was down to a level last seen in late summer and early fall 2011 - the baseline to its boom that crested the following year.

Blyth attributed the revenue drop to a shrinking number of independent distributors, which ViSalus calls its promoters. There were 37,500 promoters at the end of 2013, down from 114,000 during the company's hot summer of 2012.

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