Weight Watchers International, the world’s leading commercial provider of weight management services, has seen shares soar by 89% in pre-market trading after announcing a groundbreaking partnership with Oprah Winfrey.
The deal sees Winfrey take a 10% stake in the business as well as joining the Board of Directors, with a roll out of new initiatives that aim to respond to changing consumer attitudes toward weight loss and broaden the company’s mission to prioritise overall health and wellness.
In a statement Winfrey said: “Weight Watchers has given me the tools to begin to make the lasting shift that I and so many of us who are struggling with weight have longed for. I believe in the program so much I decided to invest in the company and partner in its evolution.”
As a part of the proposed long-term partnership, Winfrey’s roles at Weight Watchers will see her candidly sharing experiences and perspective, bringing insight and strategy to program development and executing ideas that reflect not only her own experiences as a member, but also her unique ability to inspire and connect people to live their best lives.
Jim Chambers, President and CEO, Weight Watchers International, Inc. explained the decision behind the partnership: “We are expanding our purpose from focusing on weight loss alone to more broadly helping people lead a healthier, happier life.
“Through our conversations, it became clear that there is tremendous alignment between Oprah’s intention and our mission. We believe that her remarkable ability to connect and inspire people to realize their full potential is uniquely complementary to our powerful community, extraordinary coaches and proven approach.”
The partnership has come at a good time for the weight-loss company, who according to the FT had faced difficulties in keeping up with the rapidly shifting dieting market, which is now dominated by apps and other digital tools, many of which are free.
Enjoying a net worth of $3 billion and ranking among the top 100 women in the world according to Forbes, Winfrey’s cultural influence has been so powerful that it coined the phrase “The Oprah Effect”, though whether her influence can reposition the Weight Watchers brand is yet to be determined.
“Weight Watchers and Oprah Winfrey make a powerful combination,” said Ray Debbane, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Oprah is a force of nature in connecting with people on a very personal level to live inspired lives. This partnership will accelerate our transformation and will meaningfully expand our ability to impact many millions of people worldwide.”