LONDON, United Kingdom — Athleisure brand Gymshark has hit £1.3 billion in valuation after raising capital from growth equity investor General Atlantic.
The investment, which is rumoured to be in the region of £300 million, will see General Atlantic take a 21 percent stake in the fast-growing startup.
In his mission to grow Gymshark into the most successful British fitness brand in the world, founder Ben Francis, who launched the business back in 2012 at the age of 19, will leverage the partnership to facilitate further growth in North America where Gymshark already boasts its largest customer base.
“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,” said Francis.
“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.”
Taking to YouTube, the ambitious entrepreneur also revealed just how far the brand has come in the last 8 years — from hand stitching product to becoming one of the UK’s few ‘Unicorns’, as well as addressing concerns over the company ‘selling out’.
“Is this going to change the business? Absolutely not,” he argued. “If anything you’ll see Gymshark even more agile than ever, I’m going to have even more input and control over the future of the business. And ultimately it’s all about making sure Gymshark continues on its rocketship growth trajectory, continues to build out what we believe the future of brands and fitness communities should look like, and end up becoming a truly global brand.”
The refreshingly honest video, which has already been viewed over 100 thousand times, is another example of how Francis and the Gymshark team continue to cultivate a brand built on community and authenticity.
Speaking to Welltodo earlier this year, Francis revealed that now more than ever is the time for businesses to really focus on how they are resonating with their core audience and the impact they’re having on their community and wider stakeholders. And it seems the 28-year-old is sticking to his own advice.
The company, which currently boasts over 12 million followers across various social platforms, regularly documents its growth, as well as giving followers a look into what goes on behind the scenes of the business. It has also struck a chord by being unapologetically outspoken when it comes to its views on important social issues — most recently the Black Lives Matter movement. The strategy, which has been fundamental to its growth has not only helped to generate revenues of over £250 million but also catch the eye of its new partner.
According to Gabriel Caillaux, co-president, MD and Head of General Atlantic’s business in EMEA, Gymshark is an “authentic, disruptive and differentiated brand”, which against a backdrop of rising social media usage, rapid growth of e-commerce and increasing focus on health and wellness, is positioned to seize the opportunity of further growth”.
And Francis is clearly up for the challenge.
“For me, today’s investment just signifies the beginning,” he revealed. Adding: “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.”