In 2012, Bodybuilder Ben Francis started sewing his own workout clothes, and by 2023 he had a company worth $1.2 billion and landed himself on Forbes 2023 World’s Billionaires List.
- Ben Francis is the 30-year-old founder and CEO of the athletic wear company Gymshark.
- In 2020, the company was valued at $1.45 billion before selling a 21% stake to private equity firm General Atlantic. The following year, net income doubled to $68 million while revenue grew by 78% to $608 million, according to Forbes.
- Today, Gymshark is worth over $1.2 billion, making Francis one of the youngest new entrepreneurs on Forbes 2023 World’s Billionaires List.
Why it’s news
Many people worldwide spend a lot of time in the gym, and most athletes have specific athletic wear they choose when working out. Some like loose-fitting clothing, and others like tight garments that show off their muscles.
Ben Francis was a young entrepreneur with a strong passion for the gym and bodybuilding but found that none of the clothes he would buy suited his needs. He wanted clothes that fit tight and securely to define his muscles while working out.
He and another friend, Lewis Morgan, had a business selling supplements online under their brand Gymshark. The two would buy in bulk from vendors and make a small margin selling them to customers.
To create the clothes he wanted, he and Morgan took the small amount of money they made from their supplements, purchased a screen printer and a sewing machine, and began stitching their fitness clothing from Francis’ parents’ garage, continuing the Gymshark brand, according to Forbes.
Around 10 months later, in 2013, the business partners rented a booth at BodyPower, Europe’s largest bodybuilding expo. “We were inundated with people who wanted to meet the athletes, wanted to see the product—and we sold out at the event,” says Francis.
After that, the company began to start making mass sales. They began sending clothes to weightlifting social media influencers to promote their brand, which sent daily sales soaring from $450 worth of merchandise a day to $45,000.
In 2018, the company opened its headquarters in Solihull, England. They started hosting pop-up events for fans to get exclusive merchandise later that year, Francis was featured on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Europe List.
Sales began rising again at an average of 62% yearly since 2018. In August 2020, a year after Gymshark hit $214 million in revenue and $18 million in net income, General Atlantic purchased its 21% stake, according to Forbes.
Gymshark’s yearly growth is way above industry leaders such as Nike and Lululemon, who grow 7% and 26%, respectively, but the company still has a long stretch before reaching the $47 billion sales that Nike recorded last year, or Lululemon’s $8 billion.
Francis still has a 70% stake in the company worth $1.2 billion which has sent him to billionaire status, becoming one of the youngest faces on Forbes 2023 World’s Billionaires List.