Gymshark Owner Becomes Worlds Youngest Billionaire

ben francis gym shark

In case you were unaware, Ben Francis is the founder of the workout apparel brand Gymshark, currently valued at approximately £1.25 billion.

Some of the most well known people on the planet are seen in sporting goods manufactured by Gymshark, which has its headquarters in Solihull.

It has been a long trip for the man who dropped out of college and still manages the company from Solihull, a town close to where his parents live outside of Birmingham. Francis was born in the West Midlands region of England in 1992. While he was growing up, he always had the ambition to pursue a career as a soccer player. Still, he rapidly concluded that he was not talented enough to play professionally. Instead, at the age of 17, he joined a gym in his neighbourhood and began taking information technology classes.

He immersed himself in his new interests by watching workout videos on YouTube and constructing elementary apps that assisted users in developing workout calendars and gaining access to fat loss exercises.

“They were basic, but they allowed me to apply my creativity to my two obsessions,” Francis wrote in a blog post on his personal website. “Both of them entered the top charts in the UK, although, back in 2011, competition wasn’t particularly high.”

He decided to give higher education a shot and enrolled in Aston University in Birmingham when he was 18 years old. During the day, he worked as a pizza delivery driver for Pizza Hut, and in the evening, he went to the gym. Because he was unhappy with his basic wage, he joined forces with a man named Lewis Morgan and began selling supplements online. They purchased the supplements in bulk from several vendors and made a modest profit by selling them to consumers through a website that they branded Gymshark.

Yet, selling supplements was a competitive and difficult industry. At the same time, Francis had a hard time finding clothes that accentuated his physique. As a result, he and Morgan used what little money they had to buy a screen printer and a sewing machine, and they started making their own fitness apparel in Francis’s parent’s garage.

According to an interview that Francis gave to Forbes in the year 2020, “Bodybuilding wear just wasn’t available here. All my heroes were YouTubers, so I’d send them products.”

Ten months later, in 2013, they rented a stand at BodyPower, which is Europe’s largest bodybuilding expo. This was the first time that they had a significant amount of success. According to Francis, “We were inundated with people who wanted to meet the athletes, wanted to see the product—and [we] sold out at the event,”.

In 2018, Gymshark relocated its headquarters to Solihull, leaving the garage where the company had been operating. After that, Francis began organising popup shops referred to as “We Lift This City” in various places all over the world so that fans could purchase unique merchandise.

In the same year, Francis was selected for inclusion on the Forbes list of 30 Under 30 Europe. Once again, there was a meteoric rise in sales, which have increased by an annual average of 62% since 2018.

As Gymshark has continued to thrive, Francis decided to cash in on some of the company’s success by selling 21 per cent of it to the private equity firm General Atlantic for $300 million (£240 million), one year after the company reached $214 million in revenues and $18 million in net income.

This coincided with the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, which closed gyms worldwide. A year later, Gymshark established its first office in the United States in Denver.

Gymshark’s average annual growth exceeds that of industry giants Nike (7% since 2018) and Lululemon (26%). However, the company is still far from approaching the $47 billion in sales that Nike achieved in 2018, or even Lululemon’s $8 billion in sales.

Most of Gymshark’s operations in the United States were discontinued in March after the company failed to complete an initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange in 2017. However, Francis’ army of influencers has already propelled him to the status of a billionaire, and the location of his company’s new store in London—just a short walk from Lululemon’s flagship and a six-minute walk from Nike’s flagship—is a sign of where the college dropout wants to take his rapidly expanding brand.

In 2020, a video surfaced of him online appearing to snort white powder with his pals, something Francis did of course address.

“Four years ago, I was a young guy. I got caught up in a moment and made a stupid mistake that I massively regret,” he said.

Since then, Francis’ wealth and brand has only increased.

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