PwC UK and US advise Gymshark on unicorn valuation

24 August 2020 3 min. read

Following a successful minority investment drive, Gymshark has joined the ranks of the UK’s ‘unicorns’, as the start-up has been valued at over $1 billion. The company was supported during the capital raising by M&A consultants from PwC.

Founded in 2012 by teenager Ben Francis, Gymshark is a British fitness clothing and accessories brand. The company has grown from a screen-printing operation in a garage into one of the fastest growing brands in fitness, leveraging an extensive social media ecosystem to offers a fitness wardrobe that targets customers in the UK, US and around the world.

Gymshark’s social community and fast-growing brand have resulted in the company being listed one of the fastest growing clothing brand in the UK by a number of outlets. This includes The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 and The Sunday Times International Track 200. Thanks to this wide-ranging reputation, Gymshark has been able to achieve exceptional growth since inception, recording a revenue CAGR of 56% since 2018, and currently sitting at a revenue of £250 million.

PwC UK and US advise Gymshark on unicorn valuation

The firm’s latest milestone has seen the fitness apparel brand achieve a successful minority capital raise from global growth equity investor General Atlantic (GA). GA has signed an agreement to acquire a stake in Gymshark and completion of the transaction is subject to competition approval.

GA’s $1.45 billion valuation sees Gymshark join an exclusive list of fewer than 25 British companies to have secured ‘Unicorn’ status (valued greater than $1 billion) since 2001 – and is only the second British company to do so without previous support from external investors. GA is focused on minority investments in high-growth businesses, having supported consumer brands such as Sezane, Tory Burch, Zimmerman, Depop and Joe & the Juice with their international growth aspirations.

PwC Corporate Finance acted as lead advisor to Gymshark, with the a combined UK and US team to providing a global insight to the sell-side; including commercial due diligence, financial due diligence, data analytics, cyber security, and tax advice services. The UK team advising on the deal was Matt Waddell, Tom Copeland, Amit Aggarwal, Heena Gorrie, Rich Sanders, Charlotte Astleford, Kate Davies and Ibrahim Adat. The US team – which enabled PwC to utilise its strong direct-to-consumer (DTC) credentials – consisted of Jimmy Yasuki, Fred Rochat, Jonathan Nemes, Curtis Wilder, William Thompson and Trip Wolfe.

Wolfe commented, “Gymshark emerged as one of the rare DTC companies that successfully marries culture, community and commerce. Ben, Steve, Paul and the team built a business with energy and passion that permeates throughout the entire organisation, enabling Gymshark to disrupt the fitness ecosystem with a data-driven platform, unlike any other we’ve seen.”

He continued, “With General Atlantic's support they will continue their mission of building one of the most recognized and iconic global brands. It's been a privilege to work with the Gymshark team and help them with this process.”

The deal-making process commenced in June, during the Covid-19 lockdown, and reached signing within a 10 week period utilising technology to support global remote working. Gymshark founder Ben Francis has retained a majority stake of around 70%, while as part of the transaction, passive co-founder shareholder Lewis Morgan will exit in full. Following the investment Gymshark plans to continue scaling in international markets to continue to become a preeminent global fitness brand.

Founder Francis commented, “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."