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Bidders circle millennial sports brand Gymshark

Lauretta Roberts
09 July 2020

A host of private equity firms are reported to be circling fast-growing millennial sports brand Gymshark.

According to Sky News, Inflexion Private Equity and General Atlantic are among those interested in purchasing a minority stake in the brand, which was established by entrepreneur Ben Francis when he was just 19 years old in 2012.

The report suggests that the business, which is located in Solihull, is looking for a valuation of around £1bn from the deal. It is understood Francis, who relinquished the CEO role in 2017, is open to selling around 20% of the brand in which he owns around two thirds of the shares.

Francis, who is one of the UK's most successful entrepreneurs under the age of 30, established the brand as a screen printing operation with a fellow Aston University student. The pair would print and make gym kit on-demand in the early days and it has now grown into a fully fledged sports lifestyle brand with a highly engaged social following.

The brand made its name by creating streamlined sportswear, which while more mainstream now, was unusual at the time. It was also early to champion the idea of creating a community around the brand, something which it now fiercely protects, and to adopt a direct to consumer model.

Francis, whose title is now founder and chief marketing officer, handed the CEO reins to Steve Hewitt in 2017 who has been with the brand for more than five years. Hewitt had previously been managing director and previously held senior roles at Reebok and Sports Brands Group.

The brand recently ventured into physical retail with a pop-up shop in London's Covent Garden which closed earlier than anticipated due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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