Gymshark secures new backing to target North American market

Sports clothing and accessories firm Gymshark has secured new equity investment for the first time since the company was founded in 2012.

US investor General Atlantic has taken a 21 per cent stake in the firm for an undisclosed fee although a spokesperson claimed the deal valued Solihull-based Gymshark at more than £1 billion.

Gymshark was founded by Ben Francis in his parents’ garage when he was 19 and has secured itself a young following by tapping into the Instagram generation and the dual interest of fitness combined with fashion.

In 2018, it relocated from its previous base in Redditch to a brand new headquarters on Blythe Valley Park and now has a 500-strong payroll and turnover of £250 million, regularly featuring in countdowns of the UK’s fatest growing companies.

This is the first time Gymshark has ever taken on external investment with the aim of fostering further growth in North America where it sees its largest audience.

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The deal also sees Mr Francis increase his stake to 70 per cent and Melis Kahya Akar, head of consumer for EMEA at New York-based General Atlantic, will take a seat on the board.

Incumbent chief executive Steve Hewitt and executive chairman Paul Richardson will remain in their roles post completion.

Lewis Morgan, who co-founded the business with Mr Francis, has sold his stake and left the company completely although he stepped down from being involved in day-to-day operations in 2016.

Mr Francis said: “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.

“We 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 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.”

Gabriel Caillaux, head of General Atlantic’s business in EMEA, added: “We believe Gymshark is an authentic, disruptive and differentiated brand.

“Against a backdrop of rising social media usage, rapid growth of e-commerce and increasing focus on health and wellness, Gymshark is positioned to seize the opportunity of further growth.”

Gymshark was advised by PwC and Gateley and General Atlantic was advised by RBC Capital Markets and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.


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