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Ben Francis

EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year Class of 2021, United Kingdom

Ben Francis, Founder of Gymshark

Ben Francis’ sportswear empire is fit for the future.

Photographic portrait of Ben Francis

Ben Francis

In just under a decade, Ben Francis has gone from delivering pizzas to founding Gymshark. A “sportswear disrupter,” Gymshark has over 7 million customers in 167 countries and 555 UK employees.

The idea for Gymshark came from Ben’s love of exercise. Although he enjoyed going to the gym, he wasn’t keen on the workout clothes available. When he was 19, he convinced his grandmother to teach him to sew, and before long, he had set up a sewing machine in his parents’ garage to start making workout gear.

Ben’s decision to step down as CEO in 2017 to become Chief Brand Officer followed the path of many entrepreneurs who made the necessary strategic decisions to support business growth. His focus on social media and “influencer marketing” has helped build Gymshark into a brand with an international following. Today the company has 16.2 million followers across 14 platforms, and the company has expanded into the United States and Hong Kong. In August 2020, Gymshark became only the second British company to reach a £1b valuation without prior support from outside investors.