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14 August 2020 20:36

Nike Supreme Gymshark

General Atlantic backs UK fitness apparel brand Gymshark

General Atlantic has entered a strategic partnership with fitness community and apparel brand Gymshark in its first-ever fundraise, valuing the business at over GBP1 billion. In connection with GA's investment the founder is increasing his stake in the company to more than 70 per cent. GA will take a 21 per cent stake in the business following the deal, and Melis Kahya Akar, GA's head of consumer for EMEA, will take a seat on the board. The global sports apparel market generated around USD181 billion in revenue in 2019 and is forecast to reach around USD208 billion in 2025. Since then, the company has reached over 12 million followers on social platforms.

Gymshark was recently recognised as the private company with the fastest-growing profits in the UK, with latest revenues of over GBP250 million. "It has been an incredible ride over the last eight years to get to this point, but today signals the next chapter in the Gymshark story," said Francis. Gabriel Caillaux, co-president, managing director and head of General Atlantic's business in EMEA, commented: "Against a backdrop of rising social media usage, rapid growth of e-commerce and increasing focus on health and wellness, Gymshark is positioned to seize the opportunity of further growth." A US private equity firm has taken a significant stake in fitness apparel business Gymshark in a move that has valued the company at more than £1bn. New York-headquartered General Atlantic has snapped up a 21 per cent holding in the Solihull-headquartered business which was founded by Ben Francis in 2012. As part of the deal, Francis has increased his stake to more than 70 per cent while Melis Kahya Akar, head of consumer for EMEA at General Atlantic, will take a seat on the board.

The private equity firm said the deal is designed to "facilitate further growth and international expansion", specifically into North America. Gabriel Caillaux, co-president, managing director and head of General Atlantic's business in EMEA, added: "We believe Gymshark is an authentic, disruptive and differentiated brand. Melis Kahya Akar said: "Fitness apparel is a large and resilient market with growth potential. Gymshark has managed to create a substantial social community around its products and services, generating brand awareness and loyalty. General Atlantic was advised by RBC Capital Markets and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.

A 28-year-old former pizza delivery boy has done a deal which values his sportswear company at more than £1bn. Ben Francis started Gymshark from his parents' garage in 2012 when he was 19 years old, studying by day and working for Pizza Hut by night. But based on a £1bn value, Mr Francis' stake in Gymshark is worth £700m. US private equity firm General Atlantic is taking a 21% share in the clothing business, which is based in Solihull. His brother and most of those friends are still a part of the business today, which has 499 staff and offices in the UK, Hong Kong and Denver, Colorado.

A large part of the sportswear firm's success is due to its significant social media following. "We were one of the first businesses in the world to sponsor influencers," Mr Francis said. "Equally, we were one of the first businesses to really double down and invest in social media." Sports clothing and accessories firm Gymshark has secured new equity investment for the first time since the company was founded in 2012. US investor General Atlantic has taken a 21 per cent stake in the firm for an undisclosed fee although a spokesperson claimed the deal valued Solihull-based Gymshark at more than £1 billion. Gymshark was founded by Ben Francis in his parents' garage when he was 19 and has secured itself a young following by tapping into the Instagram generation and the dual interest of fitness combined with fashion.

This is the first time Gymshark has ever taken on external investment with the aim of fostering further growth in North America where it sees its largest audience. If you have any questions about entering or the awards in general, please email [email protected] and contact [email protected] or [email protected] if you would like to learn more about becoming a commercial partner of the awards. The deal also sees Mr Francis increase his stake to 70 per cent and Melis Kahya Akar, head of consumer for EMEA at New York-based General Atlantic, will take a seat on the board. Lewis Morgan, who co-founded the business with Mr Francis, has sold his stake and left the company completely although he stepped down from being involved in day-to-day operations in 2016. Mr Francis said: "It has been an incredible ride over the last eight years to get to this point but today signals the next chapter in the Gymshark story. "I'm incredibly proud of what Gymshark has achieved to date from our roots but it's all about looking forward. Gabriel Caillaux, head of General Atlantic's business in EMEA, added: "We believe Gymshark is an authentic, disruptive and differentiated brand. "Against a backdrop of rising social media usage, rapid growth of e-commerce and increasing focus on health and wellness, Gymshark is positioned to seize the opportunity of further growth." Gymshark was advised by PwC and Gateley and General Atlantic was advised by RBC Capital Markets and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.