Gymshark founder Ben Francis reclaims the role of CEO as it plots international expansion

Steve Hewitt and Ben Francis

Gymshark founder Ben Francis has reclaimed the CEO role at the fitness brand he established in 2012 as it plans to expand the business in the key markets of Asia and the US.

Francis surrendered the CEO role, in favour of the Chief Brand Officer title, in 2015 to former Reebok executive Steve Hewitt. At the time of the handover to Hewitt, Francis was just 23 and is now 29.

Last year Francis sold a 21% stake in the brand, which targets a millennial consumer base, valuing the Solihull-based firm at more than £1bn. US investor General Atlantic said its acquisition of the stake, for an undisclosed sum, would facilitate the brand’s expansion, in particular in North America.

In a video posted on Gymshark’s social channels Francis said that Hewitt had decided that he was not the person to lead that growth and suggested that Francis was.

Francis admitted that he had been “hurt” at having to handover the reins of his business back in 2015. “I wanted to be the person who could lead Gymshark [in 2015] and I knew that wasn’t me. Knowing I am going into this position, it is daunting,” he said in the video.

In a statement, Francis added: “This next chapter of the journey will see us make some incredible progress behind our Northstar in uniting the conditioning community – and there’s no other team I’d want to be heading on that journey with.”

Francis steps into the CEO role on 1 August but Hewitt is not leaving the business. He will take up the new role of executive president and will be supporting Francis in an advisory role.

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