Gymshark founder awarded MBE
Ben Francis, the founder and chief executive of sportswear retailer Gymshark, has been awarded an MBE in the British New Year’s Honours List. At 30, he’s this year’s youngest business-related recipient, recognised for his services to commerce and the economy.
Francis, who began his business sewing his own gym clothes in his parents’ garage in 2012, owns 70% of Gymshark, which attracted investment from the US private equity firm General Atlantic in 2020, securing the coveted status of being a “unicorn” start-up.
The award reflects the rapid rise of the firm within the buoyant fitness apparel and accessories sector and Gymshark is now worth £1.25 billion+. His estimated personal fortune is about £875 million.
The digital-first brand, popular among Millennial and Gen Z consumers, made a statement debut in physical retail last October, opening its first flagship on the 18,000 sq ft site of the former J Crew flagship on London’s Regent Street.
Francis is joined by Johnnie Boden, founder of fashion group Boden, who was awarded a CBE; Nicola Taylor, national coordinator, Fashion Revolution Scotland, received an MBE for her services to the Promotion of Net Zero Apparel in Scotland; and celebrity hairdresser Sam McKnight was awarded an OBE for services to the British fashion and beauty industries. And Dame Mary Quant was recognised with one of the highest honours on the list, the Companion of Honour.
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