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Drapers 30 Under 30 2018: Ben Francis, founder, Gymshark

Age: 25 

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Drapers’ 30 under 30 is back for 2019!

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What he’s learnt: “Always trust your gut.”

Gymshark founder Ben Francis is a lifelong entrepreneur – he was creating websites, a fitness-focused social network and iPhone apps while still a teenager. In 2012, aged just 20 and an undergraduate at Aston University, he started etailer Gymshark. Originally a website selling health supplements, the business moved into clothing after fitness fanatic Francis struggled to find gym clothes he wanted to wear. Armed with a sewing machine and a screen printer, he started to make his own.

Just five years later, annual sales have hit £41m, and grew by more than 200% year on year from 2016 to 2017. Gymshark has 1.7 million followers on Instagram and operates online in 10 international markets. The brand is due to move into a 42,000 sq ft headquarters in Solihull early next year, and has ambitious targets to grow sales to £300m over the next three years. Gymshark was named Britain’s fastest-growing company by the Sunday Times Fast Track in 2016.

Francis looks to his chief executive, Steve Hewitt, and chief strategic officer, Paul Richardson, as well as his parents and grandparents, for inspiration.

Career path

2015-present Company secretary, Manière De Voir

2012-present Founder and director, Gymshark

2010 Delivery driver, Pizza Hut

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