Gymshark may not yet be a household name to everyone, but if its founder and ‘Keeper of Vision’ Ben Francis has anything to do with it, it will end up right up there with the likes of Nike and Adidas.
Gymshark is a UK clothing brand focused on gym clothes and workout wear, founded 9 years ago by the now 28-year old Ben Francis in Solihull. It started off in his parents’ garage so maybe one day we will see pictures of his garage alongside the likes of Jobs and Bezos and their famous garage shots.
Ben says that the USA has Nike, Germany has Adidas and he wants Britain to have Gymshark.
Gymshark deliberately operates a very different model to the other major sportswear businesses out there, who make as much product as they can, put it into as many stores as they can, in order to please as many people as they can. In the Gymshark model they have no stores themselves and do not have their clothing in other peoples’ stores either. They sell everything direct and have a huge social media following of more than 12m on Instagram. They feel this is a much more agile model and has served them very well thus far.
In the past couple of weeks, a US Private Equity firm, General Atlantic, has invested £200m for a 20% strategic shareholding, technically valuing the business at more than a billion. In its most recent year the business had sales of c£250m and pre tax profits of £18m and expects to hit £300m sales this year.
The investment is to be used to break North America as that is seen as the major growth area and they are opening offices and a distribution centre out there. Indeed, Ben was due to move there until COVID came along.
I’ve watched a number of interviews with Ben over the past few months and others on his YouTube channel and he seems an incredibly grounded individual, who has a real passion and understanding of this business and his sector and I would say he is really going places. Listening to him speak and to hear of his journey would be beneficial to any young (or old for that matter) would-be entrepreneur, and I look forward to following the journey.