Gymshark founder Ben Francis says he doesn’t see big sportswear brands as a threat to his relatively young, billion-dollar brand.
“That’s why we don’t care about big brands,” Francis told CNBC in a recent video interview, saying many of these companies are actually trying to move towards a business model similar to Gymshark. Were.
Gymshark sells its fitness clothing exclusively online and only through its website.
The brand was one of the first to embrace influencer marketing, partnering with renowned fitness YouTubers and creating its own community of ambassadors, known as “gymshark athletes”.
And it’s because Francis built this business with a younger, more agile, and more social media savvy mindset that he’s less concerned with current brands trying to make it happen.
“If I’m being honest I’m more concerned with this 16-year-old trying to do that kind of new look than I was in the bedroom,” Francis said.
Francis created the first version of the Gymshark website when he was a college student in 2011, fulfilling his passion for website and app development as well as fitness in school. He then joined Gymshark in 2012 with a school friend, Lewis Morgan.
The pair first used the website to ‘ship’ fitness supplements – when a company takes orders from customers but doesn’t actually buy physical stock.
Thus, they effectively acted as intermediaries to market and sell the products, without incurring the additional cost and risk of buying the shares themselves.
He used the money from that business, along with Francis, to buy a sewing machine and screen printing to work part-time at Pizza Hut to start making fitness clothing.
Gymshark has grown rapidly since those early days, becoming a billion dollar business in 2020. Its business has grown tenfold over the past four years, reaching £ 400million ($ 552million) this year, according to the Gymshark’s latest annual results. in June.
Although Gymshark did not provide its latest annual profit figures to CNBC, results for the year up to the end of July 2020 showed profits increased from £ 15million in 2019 to £ 24.4million in 2019. pound sterling.
For comparison, US sportswear brand Nike announced in June that its revenue increased 19% to $ 44.5 billion for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2021. It reported profit net profit of $ 5.7 billion for the year, more than double its profits. Last 12 months.
Meanwhile, German fitness clothing brand Adidas announced in March that its revenue for calendar year 2020 fell 16% to less than € 20 billion ($ 23.7 billion). Adidas said its sales were “significantly affected” by the coronavirus pandemic. It announced an operating profit with tax and interest cuts of 751 million euros in 2020, compared to 2.7 billion euros in 2019.
“There is no one size fits all”
Francis returned to the role of Managing Director in August, having gained six years of experience circling various senior positions within the company including CTO, Director of Marketing and Director of Product.
Francis said he had learned many lessons during the pandemic, such as “no one size fits all” in terms of employee preferences about where to work.
“I think it definitely made me a lot more empathetic as a person and it made me realize that even with a global pandemic like this, it affects each person in a different way,” they said. .
Between how Francis remained focused during the pandemic and his return to the role of CEO, he suggests he finds it helpful to stick to a routine of eating and waking up at the same time every day.
And despite the stratospheric development of the gymsharks, Francis said they were anchored by family and friends. The brother of Francis who is also director of customer support at Gymshark.
“Look, no matter how big the gymshark is, they’re not going to treat me any differently and I think that’s very helpful,” he said.
Francis traces Gymshark back to its roots in the English West Midlands, headquartered in Solihull, outside the city of Birmingham, UK.
to verify: How to Start a Successful Team While Keeping Your Full-Time Job, According to Those Who Created 6 Figures