- The DTC athleisure brand which operates in more than 180 countries announced it will open its first physical store on London’s iconic Regent Street in mid 2022
- The three-floor, 18,000 sq ft space will offer retail shopping, events, hangouts, workout studios and create over 100 jobs in the London area
- Chief Brand Officer Noel Mack told Welltodo this new flagship store would allow customers to experience the Gymshark brand and culture as a whole, not just the apparel that it sells
- “This store is not going to be like anything you have seen before,” added Founder and CEO Ben Francis in a video filmed at the Regent Street site
SOLIHULL, United Kingdom — Athleisure giant Gymshark, which reached unicorn status last year, has announced it will be opening its first permanent retail store on London’s iconic Regent Street in the summer of 2022.
Previously an exclusively direct-to-consumer brand, the 2012-founded company has set its sights on uniting the fitness community in real life, with a space that will offer retail shopping, events, hangouts, workout studios and more.
In what has been described as the first of many experiential spaces that “can be expected all over the world”, the company has signed a 10-year lease on a three-floor, 18,000 sq ft space at 165 Regent Street, creating over 100 jobs in the London area in the process.
Commenting on the announcement, Ben Francis, Gymshark’s Founder and CEO said: “I’m so excited that we are opening our first permanent IRL location. We knew if we were going to do this, it would have to be an iconic location and it doesn’t get much more iconic than Regent Street.”
Francis started Gymshark with school friend Lewis Morgan from his parents’ house when he was just 19 years of age. The business, which is now based in Solihull in the UK, employs over 900 people and operates in more than 180 countries.
In its last financial year, Gymshark turned over £400 million and last year became just the second British company to achieve “unicorn” status (a valuation of over 1 billion) without previous support from external investors.
“We are nothing without our community, so we wanted to create something that allows us to thank them and get closer to them,” Francis continued. “This store is not going to be like anything you have seen before. It will be an unforgettable experience and we can’t wait to welcome them through the doors next summer.”
Uniting the Gymshark community
In a video shared on his personal YouTube channel about the new site, Francis hinted that “the vast majority of the store will not be dedicated to selling Gymshark products”, with the focus instead being to unite the brand’s community in real life.
“It’s going to be experiential and we want to bring as much of that Gymshark vibe and community into this place,” Francis said. “We’re trying to build a brand that lasts longer than any of us. I think the real purpose of this store needs to be to really cultivate the Gymshark community and connect with people and inspire as many people to get into fitness as possible.”
Elaborating on the company’s plans, Gymshark’s Chief Brand Officer Noel Mack told Welltodo the new flagship store would allow customers to experience the Gymshark brand and culture as a whole, not just the apparel that it happens to sell.
“To the outside world this might seem like a departure from what we usually do, but ever since our first spark of a brand at Bodypower in Birmingham, we’ve doubled down on flying around the world to meet our consumers,” Mack explained.
“We’re a community brand. It’s at the heart of everything we do. We want to be able to help people with their squat form, to knock time off their 5K, help people understand how to track their macros, load up their MyFitnessPal if they want — and equally sell our products.”
He continued: “We want to be able to support anyone on their journey to better themselves through fitness. We’re still trying to figure that out, in terms of how many squat racks we need or what this area will look like, but that’s the feeling that I want people to walk out of the store with.”
Despite difficult times for the UK high street, with the rise of e-commerce platforms coupled with the economic downturn of the pandemic, Mack said Gymshark is proud to buck the trend and reinvest in UK retail.
“We’re still a DTC brand. We’re not going into JD Sports or Dick’s Sporting Goods in the States. We’re still DTC. What we’re not is on a single channel any more. Now we’ve got more than one channel, an offline channel, that is entirely owned by us,” he said.
“The thing I’m most proud of is the fact we’re investing in UK retail and also that while everybody else zigs, Gymshark is so good at zagging. We’ve always done that and we pride ourselves on our ability to do that.”
When pressed on where could be next for Gymshark’s IRL retail stores, Mack added, “This is just a step on the journey to uniting people. That’s our thing. The London store, whatever stores may or may not come after this, any other moves that we make, is all just part of this mission to unite people.”
In his YouTube video, Francis added: “To have started this brand nine years ago in my bedroom in the West Midlands, to now have a store on Regent Street is just mind-blowing. This store is going to reinvent the Gymshark business and I’m so excited to watch it unfold.”
Last month the founder dampened talk of an IPO, saying he was talking to banks and institutions, but that this was more about “learning” than an imminent flotation. He added, “I wanted to know what the opportunities are for Gymshark, what the options are as we continue to grow.”
The company also bolstered its board with US entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk joining to advise on marketing and brand development in North America.