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How we gave Gymshark a bigger bite

How we gave Gymshark a bigger bite

This is the story of how PwC helped Gymshark, a leading fitness apparel and accessories brand, to turbocharge its growth by raising capital from forward-thinking equity firm, General Atlantic - becoming a $1.45bn-valued business in the process.

Setting the scene

Ben Francis founded Gymshark in 2012 when he was just 19. Since then the company has grown from a screen-printing operation in a garage into one of the most recognisable brands in fitness. 

Headquartered in Solihull in the West Midlands, Gymshark creates and distributes its own range of performance fitness wear for men and women.

The business has exploded in popularity and wider recognition in recent years. Its social ecosystem targets social natives in the UK, US and around the world, making it the fastest-growing clothing brand in the UK. Gymshark has won numerous awards, including The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 and The Sunday Times International Track 200.

By 2020, the business had hit a £250m turnover, but had ambitions to continue to grow its presence around the globe.

How we helped

Gymshark’s shareholders’ international growth plans were based on being able to raise capital while allowing Ben, as the founder, to keep control of his business. In 2020, the shareholders turned to us to help find the right partner for Gymshark and then to make the deal happen.

Why did Gymshark choose us?

Well, the shareholders were impressed by the cultural fit, which was viewed as more of a partnership, where PwC was prepared to flex around set structures for a transaction. We also demonstrated that we had a close affiliation with the brand and were able to tell this story in more depth and understanding than others.

Once we were hired, PwC Corporate Finance acted as lead advisor with a UK and US combined team to provide a global insight to Gymshark. 

General Atlantic, a New York-based equity firm that provides capital and strategic support for global growth companies, acquired a minority stake in Gymshark. The process began over lockdown and was signed within ten weeks, making use of technology to support global remote working.

We also provided commercial due diligence, financial due diligence, data analytics, cyber security, and tax advice.

Ben Francis

"We selected PwC Corporate Finance because they really got us as a business and were able to provide the global insight and reach we needed to find the right partner for Gymshark. PwC educated us on the process, and I have learned so much from them. Thanks again to all at PwC for their support on this deal which will no doubt help elevate Gymshark into a truly global brand."

Ben Francis, Founder of Gymshark

Making a difference

Today, Ben retains a majority stake of around 70% in the company.

The deal means Gymshark joined an exclusive list of fewer than 25 British startups to have secured ‘Unicorn’ status (valued greater than $1bn) since 2001. Gymshark is only the second British company to have reached this milestone without previous support from external investors. 

Now Gymshark plans to continue scaling in international markets to continue to become a preeminent global fitness brand. 

And from our perspective, we’re proud to have supported a young British entrepreneur - one who has been shortlisted for the Sunday Times Businessperson of the Year for 2020 no less - and provide a platform for his business to get even better.

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Corporate Affairs, PwC United Kingdom

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