Gymshark mulls London stock market listing
The founder of Gymshark is reportedly preparing for a stock market float in London as the lifestyle-to-performance sportswear firm continues to grow fast.
Sky News said 29-year-old Ben Francis and his private equity backers have started talks with banks and investors about a future IPO.
The athleisure business has seen rapid growth in recent periods and its valuation hit £1bn+ a little over a year ago. And while a listing isn’t imminent with the talks still at a preliminary stage (and not even guaranteed to result in an IPO), by the time one potentially happens, its value could be much higher.
Francis founded the brand in 2012 from the garage of his parents’ home and its success has since seen it available in 130+ countries as Millennials buy enthusiastically into its offerings. And with it aiming to expand its product portfolio, it clearly thinks they’ll buy into a broader health-linked product selection too.
Gymshark generated revenue of £400m million+ in the year to July, up 50% year-on-year as its US operation (its largest market) continued to grow, alongside its second-largest market the UK.
Sources told Sky that an announcement could happen within months, although there are also suggestions that the faltering share prices of digital businesses like ASOS, Boohoo and THG could dampen enthusiasm for a listing in the near term.
Francis is the controlling shareholder in the firm, although General Atlantic has a 21% stake. He recently took over the CEO’s role from Steve Hewitt (who remains with the firm) as the company seeks to grow even faster around the world and challenge giants such as Nike and Adidas.
In a recent discussion with Goldman Sachs executives, he stressed his wider ambitions and said he “would love us to be sat here and shuffling about the time that Gymshark, let's say, only sold apparel and accessories. I want Gymshark to be the fitness brand [and] I want Gymshark to be playing a larger part of people's fitness journeys, both mental and physical.”
It’s interesting that earlier this month he also said he was less worried about competition from the current market leaders and more concerned about newcomers, doing the same as he did and starting a potential mega-brand from their bedrooms.
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