Gymshark partners with General Atlantic as it achieves unicorn status

Ben Francis, 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.

The valuation means that Gymshark joins the list of fewer than 25 British companies to have secured unicorn status since 2001. It is the second British company to have done so without previous support from external investors.

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.

Gymshark was advised by PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance and Gateley Legal. General Atlantic was advised by RBC Capital Markets and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.

The partnership is meant to facilitate further growth and international expansion, particularly into North America. The global sports apparel market generated around USD181 billion in revenue in 2019 and is forecast to reach around USD208 billion in 2025.

Gymshark was founded in 2012 by Ben Francis (pictured). Steve Hewitt joined as CEO and Paul Richardson as executive chairman in early 2015. 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.”