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Gymshark reported to be laying groundwork for a London float

Lauretta Roberts
13 October 2021

Gymshark, the British activewear brand founded by 29-year-old entrepreneur Ben Francis, is reported to be in talks with bankers as it eyes a float on the London Stock Exchange.

Sources have told Sky News, that while an IPO may be some time away, the £400 million turnover brand has been "aggressively" pitched to bankers. Although the size and potential value of any float is not yet known, Gym Shark itself has been valued at more than £1 billion after private equity firm General Atlantic took a 21% stake last summer.

Francis, already one of the UK's richest people under the age of 30, holds around 70% of the shares meaning he would be in line for a huge windfall if the business does go public.

Gymshark was founded in Francis' parents garage in 2012 and built up a cult following among millennial consumers, who eschewed global sports giants in favour of its gym-focused workout gear and the community atmosphere that surrounds. It now has more than 5.4 million followers on Instagram.

Francis recently returned to the role of CEO at Gymshark, having handed the reins to former Reebok Steve Hewitt in 2015. At the time Francis was just 23 and took the role of Chief Brand Officer while Hewitt led the growth of the business, however following General Atlantic's investment Hewitt stepped into the role of executive president while Francis reclaimed the CEO mantle. At the time he said that international expansion into the key markets of the US and Asia was a key aim of the business.

In a statement to Sky News Gymshark said of the talks with bankers: "We regularly speak to financial institutions to ensure we are connected to the business world and we continue to learn. Any recent conversations we have had have been about introducing these organisations to Gymshark and our journey so far."

The Solihull-based business recently extended its contract with logistics experts Bleckmann in a deal that highlighted the huge growth the business has undergone. When Gymshark began working with Bleckmann in 2017 it was shipping two million units and this year expects to ship 22 million. It anticipates shipping some 50 million units worldwide by 2024. 

Gymshark has taken a direct-to-consumer approach with all of its sales being made via its digital channel, bar a brief foray into physical retail through a London-based pop-up store.

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