Vitamin Shoppe Files for IPO

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Vitamin Shoppe’s parent company has filed to raise as much as $143.8 million in an initial public offering.

VS Holdings Inc said it planned to rename itself Vitamin Shoppe Inc in a prospectus filed on Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, but did not specify an expected timing for the IPO or the number of shares to be offered.

Vitamin Shoppe, a North Bergen, New Jersey-based specialty retailer of vitamins based, operates 425 stores in the United States and is 80 percent owned by private equity firm Irving Place Capital Management LP, according to the filing.

But Vitamin Shoppe said in its filing it believes the market could support 900 stores. The chain said net sales grew at an annual rate of 11.3 percent between 2005 and 2008, during which time it opened 171 new stores, to reach $601.5 million.

The company plans to use the IPO’s proceeds to pay down some of its debt.

The filing comes at a time when a number of private equity firms are looking for ways to unload portfolio companies [ID:nN01468569] and the IPO market is showing signs of rebirth after a near drought in late 2008.

Still, with consumers reining in their spending, investors have not embraced IPOs by retailers. The last IPO in the United States by a retailer was by beauty products chain Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc (ULTA.O) in a $153.7 million deal in October 2007.

VS Holdings had initially filed for a $150 million IPO in May 2007, but withdrew those plans in February because of “unfavorable market conditions.”

The IPO will be led by J.P.Morgan (JPM.N), BofA Merrill Lynch (BAC.N) and Barclays Capital (BARC.L)

VS Holdings has applied to list its common stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “VSI.” (Reporting by Phil Wahba; Editing by Gary Hill)