A 28-year-old university dropout is now worth more than £700m after a blockbuster deal for his sportswear brand Gymshark.
Ben Francis sold a 21pc stake in the company to US private equity firm General Atlantic in a deal which values it at more than £1bn.
Mr Francis co-founded the fitness clothing brand in his garage with an old school friend in 2012 and grew it through a cult following on social media.
The entrepreneur – who used to work as a Pizza Hut delivery driver and dropped out of a business degree at Aston University in Birmingham to focus on the company – retains a stake in Gymshark of more than 70pc.
The cash injection will allow him to expand the firm overseas, especially in America. It sells, leggings, shorts and T-shirts with a price tag of around £20-£40.
General Atlantic's investment propels Gymshark into an exclusive list of fewer than 25 UK firms which have become so-called unicorns worth more than $1bn (£760m).
He said: “It has been an incredible ride over the last eight years to get to this point. I’m incredibly proud of what Gymshark has achieved to date from our roots in Birmingham, but it’s all about looking forward.”
The global sports apparel market generated around $181bn in revenue in 2019 and is forecast to reach around $208bn in 2025.
Gymshark has 499 staff and offices in the UK, Hong Kong and Denver, Colorado. It manufactures clothes all over the world and has 4.6 million followers on Instagram alone.
The retailer was advised by the corporate finance division at PwC. General Atlantic was advised by Royal Bank of Canada.