Cape Town – Ultimate Sports Nutrition (USN) is a giant supplements company in South Africa and a global brand that was founded in 1999 by Albe Geldenhuys in his Pretoria home.
It was then outsourced to reputable local pharmaceutical manufacturers through Geldenhuys’ relentless industrious nature and natural flair for sales.
Geldenhuys – a former salesman – says he wanted to fill a gap in the sports supplements market while developing a business that was flatly structured and cost-effective.
For over two decades, Geldenhuys has built USN into South Africa’s dominant market leader in sports nutrition and a fast-growing international business with multiple brands, solid systems and great people.
Today, USN is available in more than 80 countries with strategically positioned distribution hubs around the world and manufacturing on three continents, including the United Kingdom and the United States.
A 100% home-grown South African business, USN has just about 250 local employees and approximately 60 in England, with around three in France and two in the United States.
The brand has now partnered up with an investment company, Fledge Capital – which has bought a quarter stake (25%) from the supplements giant – that has now an annual turnover of over R1 billion.
Fledge Capital are the previous investors in We Buy Cars and Dis-Chem.
Geldenhuys says several businesses have courted him before regarding partnership deals over the years, but he says he has often rejected these advances.
“As a globally trusted name, USN is well positioned for the world’s renewed focus on healthy living. The only partner I trust to continue growing and scaling USN with me is one that can add significant long-term value beyond providing growth capital, and that is exactly what Fledge Capital brings to the table,” says Geldenhuys.
With the growth of any company often comes its branding – the perception of the people when they view the business outside of its leader. As a former salesman, Geldenhuys knew this and was intentional about his enterprise’s brand from the onset.
“Branding is important because it creates perception.
“You can do a lot with it. The reason we used the acronym USN was that those letters consciously invoked America and American supplements were considered the best at the time. We were creating the perception that we were an international brand and that we could sell below the price of imported products without compromising on quality,” CEO magazine quoted Geldenhuys as saying,
“When we set trends locally, we want to implement them overseas. You won’t see that anywhere else in the world, because we’re strong at building our brand,” he says.
Geldenhuys says the aim of the enterprise moving forward is to optimise its digital transformation. He says accessibility is paramount in the digital world.
“Access to information for special needs. It’s about making our product accessible and making a way for our clientele to order anywhere in the world and for everyone to be part of the fitness movement,” he says.
A chance meeting with Fledge Capital’s founder Van Der Watt ultimately led to Geldenhuys opening the investment discussions – as he was often reluctant to do so in the past – and finally taking on a partner to unlock sustained value growth from USN’s robust business platform.
He says Fledge’s investment will grow USN’s capacity to meet the strong international demand for its high-quality sports nutrition and wellness products, while he focuses on product development and the growth opportunities within USN’s market.
Compiled by Odwa Shumi