GymShark, the UK-based fitness apparel start-up, announced it will enter a strategic partnership with General Atlantic, a global growth equity firm, in its first-ever fundraiser, valuing the business at over £1 billion.

In conjunction with General Atlantic’s investment, Founder Ben Francis has increased his stake in the company to over 70 percent.

The investment will see General Atlantic take a 21 percent stake in the business, and Melis Kahya Akar, head of consumer for EMEA at General Atlantic, will take a seat on the board. This partnership is designed to for further growth and international expansion, specifically into North America, where Gymshark has already established its largest customer base.

Francis said: “It has been an incredible ride over the last eight years to get to this point, but today signals the next chapter in the Gymshark story. We are nothing without our community, so we will use this new investment partnership to get even closer to them on a truly global scale. I’m incredibly proud of what Gymshark has achieved to date from our roots in Birmingham, but it’s all about looking forward. I firmly believe Gymshark has the potential to be to the UK what Nike is to the US and Adidas is to Germany, and today is a significant step to realizing that.”

Gabriel Caillaux, co-president, managing director and head of General Atlantic’s business in EMEA, commented, “We believe Gymshark is an authentic, disruptive and differentiated brand. Against a backdrop of rising social media usage, the rapid growth of e-commerce and increasing focus on health and wellness, Gymshark is positioned to seize the opportunity of further growth.”

Melis Kahya Akar added, “Fitness apparel is a large and resilient market with growth potential. Gymshark has managed to create a substantial social community around its products and services, generating brand awareness and loyalty. We are thrilled to be partnering with Ben and the team to build on Gymshark’s offering globally.”

Gymshark was advised by PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance and Gateley Legal. General Atlantic was advised by RBC Capital Markets and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.

The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Photo courtesy Gymshark