Weight Watchers gains in web sales
It was a good first quarter online for Weight Watchers International Inc., but net income declined as the company spent more to promote online programs.
For the first quarter ended March 31, Weight Watchers, No. 81 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, reported:
- Online sales of $126.9 million, a 38% increase from $92.0 million in the first quarter last year.
- Total sales of $503.5 million, flat compared with $503.4 million.
- Net income of $54.6 million, down by 25.8% from $73.6 million in the prior year quarter. The decline was driven by higher marketing spend on growth initiatives.
- Marketing spending was $130.3 million, a 36.2% increase from $95.7 million in Q1 2011, driven mainly by investment in Weight Watchers Online for men in the U.S. and building awareness for Weight Watchers Online in continental Europe, the company says.
- Total paid weeks for subscribers in the company's diet programs was 54.5 million, up by about 12.3% from 48.5 in the prior year period.
The Internet accounted for 25.2% of sales in Q1 2012, compared with 18.3% in the prior year quarter.
"Engagement with our brand reached a new height in the first quarter of this year with 12.2% growth in total paid weeks versus the first quarter of 2011, driven by robust growth in the WeightWatchers.com business," says David Kirchhoff, president and CEO.