// Gymshark secures investment from General Atlantic, valuing it at over £1bn
// Deal will see General Atlantic will take a minority stake of 21%
// Gymshark founder Ben Francis also increasing his stake to over 70%
Gymshark has joined a list of fewer than 25 British firms achieving Unicorn status since 2001, after a major fundraise brought the online retailer’s valuation to over £1 billion.
Gymshark announced it would enter a strategic partnership with global growth equity firm General Atlantic, a deal that allows the sportswear brand to achieve its landmark valuation in just eight years since it founded by Ben Francis.
The investment will see General Atlantic take a 21 per cent stake in Gymshark, and Melis Kahya Akar, head of consumer for EMEA at General Atlantic, will take a seat on the board.
Meanwhile, Francis is increasing his stake in his online retail business to over 70 per cent. He previously had a stake of around two-thirds.
- Investors eye up £1bn Gymshark minority stake
- Gymshark donates more than £180,000 for NHS charities
- Gymshark confirms opening date of first high street store
The partnership is also designed to facilitate further growth and international expansion, specifically into North America, where Gymshark has already established its largest customer base.
Francis founded the business when he was just 19 in 2012, operating it out of his parents’ garage in the Midlands and capitalising on the sewing lessons from his mum.
By early 2015, Gymshark had grown exponentially and Steve Hewitt joined as chief executive and Paul Richardson as executive chairman.
It now has 12 million followers on Instagram, raked in revenues of over £250 million in its last fiscal year and earlier this year, Francis’ wealth was estimated to be around £138 million.
Gymshark had also opened its first ever and longest-standing pop-up store in London just weeks before the coronavirus lockdown came into place in late March.
“It has been an incredible ride over the last eight years to get to this point, but today signals the next chapter in the Gymshark story,” Francis said. W
“e are nothing without our community, so we will use this new investment partnership to get even closer to them on a truly global scale.
“I’m incredibly proud of what Gymshark has achieved to date from our roots in Birmingham, but it’s all about looking forward.
“I firmly believe Gymshark has the potential to be to the UK what Nike is to the US and Adidas is to Germany, and today is a significant step to realising that.”
Despite a global pandemic, Gymshark said it enjoyed its strongest quarter yet in terms of revenue growth and also donated £180,000 via its NHS Sweaty Selfie campaign.
“For me, today’s investment just signifies the beginning, but we will be sure to retain the ingredients that have made Gymshark the brand it is today,” Francis said.
“We look forward to working closely with General Atlantic to build our global footprint and ensure Gymshark becomes one of the global leaders in the fitness industry.”
Gymshark was advised by PwC and Gateley Legal. General Atlantic was advised by RBC Capital Markets and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.