Gymshark valued at £1bn as US investment firm bids for 20pc stake

Ex-pizza delivery driver, 28, who started a gym clothing firm from his parents’ garage it set to become Britain’s richest self-made person under 30 with a business worth more than £1billion

  • Ben Francis, 28, started Gymshark in his parents’ garage in Birmingham aged 19
  • US investment firm General Atlantic is trying to buy 20 per cent of the firm 
  • The company, which has 400 employees, did not use the government furlough 
  • The massive could be completed in the coming days according to sources

A young entrepreneur who started his clothing brand in his parents’ garage aged 19 has built the brand into a £1billion venture in less than a decade. 

Ben Francis, 28, was a student in Aston University when he began working on his Gymshark brand, developing clothing for the gym while also delivering pizza at night.  

Last year the company returned a profit of £18.6 million for its fashionable gym wear and is one of the fastest growing brands in the country with a strong following among social influencers.

Now Mr Francis is on the verge of closing a deal that would value the business at £1billion and make him Britain’s richest self-made person under 30.

Ben Francis, pictured, started his Gymshark brand in his parents’ garage in Birmingham. After decade in business, the firm is now worth an estimated £1bn

The brand is known for his muscle-enhancing gym wear which is promoted extensively through its own Instagram channel

Mr Francis, pictured right, could be worth an estimated £650 million for his stake in the firm

According to Bloomberg, US private equity firm General Atlantic is believed to be preparing to invest £220million for a stake in the company that would value it at more than £1billion.

Reports say the deal could be signed off within a couple of days. 

Mr Francis owns 66 per per cent of the firm – which means his stake is worth an estimated £650 million.  

The company’s chief executive Steve Hewitt and its chief strategic officer Paul Richardson also have shares in the company. 

The firm is based in Solihull but also has offices in Denver, Mauritius and Hong Kong. 

According to The Times Mr Francis started making fitness tracking apps on his iPhone as a teenager. 

He later moved into selling nutrition supplements, making £2 profit on his first £50 deal. 

Mr Francis, pictured, started his business career by developing fitness tracking apps 

Mr Francis, pictured, sold his first £30,000 of Gymshark stock in just 30 minutes 

Disappointed by the return, he decided to buy a sewing machine and a screen printer to develop a range of hoodies, muscle-enhanced string vests and t-shirts.  

Fans of the fashion brand post photographs of themselves wearing the gear on Instagram

The first batch of Gymshark clothing sold out online within 30 minutes of going on sale 

As well as posting selfies, fans of the brand also share their workout regimes as an inspiration to others 

Much of the Gymshark clothing is designed to show off the figure

His first £30,000 batch of products under his Gymshark brand sold out within 30 minutes of going online. 

During the pandemic, Mr Francis donated £180,000 to Birmingham’s women’s and children’s hospital where his mother works. 

He also opened a pop-up store in Covent Garden, rebranding itself Homeshark. 

The firm, who employs 400 people, did not place any of its staff on the government’s furlough scheme.

Mr Francis said: ‘We are going to weather the storm… we don’t want to put any unnecessary pressure on the government.’ 

During the pandemic, Mr Francis donated £180,000 to Birmingham’s women’s and children’s hospital where his mother works

The brand has a huge following among social media users who are keen to show off their bodies

The company is now one of Britain’s fastest-growing businesses 

Gymshark boss joins Britain’s wealthy young elite

Hugh Grosvenor, 29, Duke of Westminster. (£10bn) 

The Duke inherited the Grovesnor fortune which is based on owning 300 acres of London property. 

His 21st birthday party reportedly cost £5 million. 

He became the seventh Duke of Westminster following the surprise death of his father. 

He is also Prince George’s godfather.  

The Duke of Westminster, 29, is worth an estimated £10bn due to his extensive property interests in London

Lady Charlotte Wellesley, 29. (£2bn) 

Lady Charlotte is the daughter of the 9th Duke of Wellington and is married to Colombian-American billionaire Alejandro Santo Domingo

She is the daughter of Princess Antonia of Prussia making her a great-great-granddaughter of Emperor William II. 

She is also related to Queen Victoria.  

Lady Charlotte Wellesley is the daughter of the 9th Duke of Wellington and is married to Colombian-American billionaire Alejandro Santo Domingo

Jack Sullivan, 20 (£50 million) 

Mr Sullivan is the son of West Ham’s co-owner David Sullivan. 

His father started his career in the pornography business as well as owning sex shops. 

The 20-year-old tycoon is the chairman of West Ham Women.  

Jack Sullivan, 20, is the son of West Ham’s co-owner David Sullivan 

India Rose James (£730 million)

Ms James, 28, inherited the Soho empire of her grandfather Paul Raymond, best known for being The King of Soho. 

Mr Raymond made his money from his Raymond’s Revue Bar which employed strippers. He was also involved in publishing pornographic magazines

India Rose James, inherited the Soho empire of her grandfather Paul Raymond, best known for being The King of Soho

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