Surging Gymshark is target for private equity firms
Fast-growing sports and athleisure brand Gymshark is in the sights of private equity investors although they would only be able to buy a minority stake, a news report said.
Founder Ben Francis is seeking to sell a 20% stake. He set up the company eight years ago when he was 19 and its spectacular rise since then has made him one of the wealthiest under-30s in the UK.
Sky News said L Catterton (the business in which LVMH’s controlling family has a stake), TSG Partners, Inflexion Private Equity and General Atlantic are among a number of the investors that have shown their interest in buying a minority shareholding after the firm hired PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to run a sale.
Sources told the news organisation that Gymshark is thinking of a valuation around £1 billion, although it’s unclear whether prospective investors would agree with that price target.
Gymshark’s ascent has been fast and it has shrugged off the woes that have hit the UK fashion sector, reaching out to millennials and capitalising on the athlesiure trend that’s so important to them.
In May, it found itself in top position in a ranking of Britain’s fastest-growing private companies. It reported profits of almost £19 million in the year to last July and averaged 156% annual profits growth over the past three years.
It has over two million Facebook followers and 4.2 million on Instagram, and social media marketing is understandably a key part of its strategy, particularly using influencers like Stefanie Moir and Matt Ogus.
And while its founder is no longer in day to day control with former Reebok executive Steve Hewitt having joined as CEO, Francis remains the driving force behind the brand and reportedly owns two thirds of the shares at present.
His vision is to challenge the big names of the sports sector and he recently said he’s “not content with managing £500 million revenue in the next few years. I genuinely think we can be up there with the Nikes of this world.”
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