The now iconic British fitness apparel and accessories brand, founded by then 21 year-old, Ben Francis, hardly needs introduction today. Launched from his parents’ garage back in 2013, armed with only a sewing machine and a £1000 screen-printer; today, Gymshark has become one of only 25 British companies to have secured ‘unicorn’ status since 2001, with a valuation of $1.45 billion.
The Billion $ Goal
“I want to grow a billion-dollar business.” These words may sound like a pipe-dream to many, but when Gymshark founder Ben said this to the ORESA team during their second meeting back in 2017, we knew this was a statement of intent – and we were committed to helping make that a reality.
How we helped
Hard though it may be to believe, when ORESA first went to market for Gymshark, they weren’t a well-recognised name in the market. This meant when it came to executive headhunting, we had to really educate candidates and sell the vision to help attract the world-class talent needed to scale internationally.
- ORESA has worked closely with Gymshark to recruit a significant number of critical board and senior level appointments over the past five years, working with the CEO and CPO to review a constantly evolving organisational plan and leadership team structure to support a fast-evolving business.
- Balancing the science and art of executive search, we ran global searches to identify market leaders that would propel the brand. We took a data-led approach, using hybrid psychometric, cultural and technical diagnostics. This combined with our intimate understanding of the Gymshark culture and our deep knowledge of the sector, to source world-class candidates that matched the skillset requirement and were most importantly a culture fit.
- Keeping up with the fast-paced nature of the scale-up; maintaining open, honest communication and remaining flexible and understanding to briefs and requirements changing rapidly was critical to success.
CROSSING THE ATLANTIC
The decision was made in late 2020 that in order to really scale up in the USA, roots needed to be formed across the Atlantic and a team established. ORESA worked with the Gymshark leadership to determine what structure would work best, balancing how to leverage a central group structure with a local leadership structure. Considerations as to what a ‘hub and spoke’ or central / decentralised model would look like and helping to determine the right levels of ownership locally vs globally was key to this working.
With the North America team reporting into the Group, the first obstacle was brand recognition overseas. With only a vague awareness of the Gymshark brand, when headhunting in the US, ORESA needed to sell the Gymshark story passionately and authentically to engage the best talent and most dynamic industry leaders. The onboarding of North American natives helped to bring a first-in-class market expertise, to localise Gymshark, seed the brand for growth and equip the business to speak authentically to American executive talent with the style and sensitivities required; rather than as a British brand airdropped Stateside!
Making a difference
✔️ When ORESA started working with Gymshark, they had a run rate of c. £50m with 100 people. The 2021 accounts show a turnover of £437m and 541 employees.
✔️ ORESA built a trusted partnership, cultivating a relationship which flourished as the Gymshark business thrived.
✔️ Rooted in sourcing the very best global talent to help drive evolution and growth, the first ORESA appointment at Gymshark is still in post 5 years later.
✔️ Having built the North America leadership team, the market is already driving more than 50% of Gymshark revenue, thanks in a large part to the stellar leadership team ORESA built in Denver, Colorado.
✔️ The trans-Atlantic takeover of the activewear market has been spearheaded by Henry Spear, who was appointed VP Commercial and promoted to President, North America.
✔️ Ben achieved his billion-dollar goal ($1.45bn valuation) and remains fully committed to further future growth.
Here is what Steve Hewitt, CEO during the rapid growth period had to say:
“At Gymshark, it was really easy to find talented people who wanted to join the senior leadership team, but talented people who really care and buy into our purpose & reinforce our culture we found really difficult to do. That was until ORESA reached out.
After meeting Orlando & Leandro we quickly realised that they just ‘got it’ and they started to solve some of the challenges we had in building out our C-Suite & senior leadership team that would enable us to build the Gymshark organisation through many chapters of growth.
We see ORESA as a key partner to the Gymshark organisation and their style is honest, structured, direct and I love the way they challenge our thinking which has meant the organisation becoming the best version of itself. I would not hesitate in recommending ORESA to any organisation.”
Steve Hewitt, Non Executive Director.