How A Pizza Delivery Driver Became The UK’s Youngest Billionaire
— Updated on 16 January 2024

How A Pizza Delivery Driver Became The UK’s Youngest Billionaire

— Updated on 16 January 2024
Garry Lu
WORDS BY
Garry Lu

With an estimated net worth of US$1.3 billion, Ben Francis is currently the UK’s youngest billionaire.

But the 30-year-old co-founder & CEO of Gymshark – and newly-appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the business sector – didn’t achieve his ten-figure success overnight.

The Bromsgrove native’s journey to establishing a global empire, and being included on the Forbes rich list, can be traced all the way back to his days studying at Aston University; and arguably before that to his days selling number plates online while attending South Bromsgrove High School.

RELATED: How One Bloke Turned His Meal-Prepping Dread Into A $200 Million Empire

The Foundation

Ben Francis Net Worth: From Pizza Delivery Driver To Billionaire

For Francis, it all began with his passion for fitness.

Like many blokes, he fell in love with the gym at a young age, and the Iron Church would soon reward him by providing a little more than just gains.

“I watched YouTubers such as Scott Herman and learned the basic skills and structure you needed to apply to yourself in the gym in order to get results,” explained Francis.

“These early lessons of structure, consistency, and hard work were some of the most important lessons I’d learn in my life. I applied these same lessons to my school work, and went from getting Ds & Es at GCSEs to As and Bs at A level.”

“The structure, consistency, and work ethic I found in the gym, I realised, could be applied to different areas of my life and it would work. This changed my life.”

The First Attempt

After two brief experiments with “basic” fitness apps Fat Loss Abs Guide and iPhysique, Ben Francis set his attention to the world of e-commerce.

In 2012, at the tender age of 19, he launched the earliest iteration of Gymshark in his parents’ garage, with the help of school friend Lewis Morgan. There was, however, still a question of what he’d actually sell.

“The most obvious thing to me was supplements, but I couldn’t afford any stock,” said Francis.

“I called around UK distributors and my £5 an hour at Pizza Hut wouldn’t even get me a foot in the door – I was nowhere near even the lowest of minimum order quantities.”

The solution? The now-ubiquitous modern plague of drop shipping.

Francis continued: “I loaded the Gymshark website up with as many supplements as I could find, and drop-shipped them all from other vendors, adding a small margin.”

After six-plus weeks, Gymshark made its first sale. When the company was all but six months old, Ben Francis would drop out of uni.

The Follow-Through

Ben Francis Net Worth: From Pizza Delivery Driver To Billionaire

Slinging health supplements was a solid start but it was by no means the end game. Which was why in 2013, Ben Francis decided to branch out to Gymshark apparel.

Using £1,000 of his hard-earned savings to buy a sewing machine and screen printer, the budding entrepreneur – who’d learned how to sew from his grandmother – started manufacturing the aforementioned fitness apparel himself.

The gym vests and t-shirts produced in those early days were, by Francis’s own admission in an interview with Forbes, simply clothes he and his mates wanted to wear themselves. But in time, they came to enjoy learning to create and fulfil the orders coming in.

RELATED: In 2011, ‘Yellowstone’ Creator Taylor Sheridan Was Down To His Last $800 — Now He’s Worth Over $200 Million

The Foward Momentum

A pivotal moment in Ben Francis’ capitalist mythology occurred in the same year he decided to greenlight Gymshark’s expansion.

After exhibiting his DIY wares at Birmingham’s BodyPower fitness trade show, the Gymshark Luxe tracksuit went viral on Facebook and reportedly generated £30,000 worth of sales in just 30 minutes.

At this stage, it was clear he could quit his gig at Pizza Hut. It was also now clear to that Francis that the product was up to scratch – all he needed to do was leverage the full power of social media.

What followed can only be described as aggressive brand marketing with the other ubiquitous modern scourge: influencers. To kicks things off, Francis enlisted the help of bodybuilders such as Nikki Blackletter and Lex Griffin, which proved mighty successful almost immediately.

In present day, Gymshark has partnered with everyone from boxing extraordinaire Ryan Garcia and former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou to part-time NELK Boy/bodybuilder Bradley Martyn and Benny’s own wife Robin Gallant.

The Fortune

By 2015, Francis had stepped aside as Gymshark CEO to make way for ex-Reebok director Steve Hewitt; and to focus on marketing, brand, plus product.

He also stepped aside to ensure the company would “grow even more quickly,” as well as to give himself time to work on his “weaknesses” and “become a more rounded businessperson.”

In the years leading up to his eventual reprisal of the CEO role, Gymshark:

  • opened a £5 million HQ in Solihull, West Midlands in 2018
  • opened its own branded gym and innovation hub in 2019
  • sold a 21% stake to US private equity firm General Atlantic through a deal that valued the company at over £1 billion in 2020

At the time of this writing, Gymshark’s valuation has exceeded US$1.45 billion with the brand’s own apparel and accessories sold in 131 countries.

As of April 2023, Ben Francis’ net worth is US$1.3 billion – the majority of which can be attributed to his 70% equity stake in Gymshark.

In the same month, he debuted on the Forbes World’s Billionaires list curated as the 2,259th richest person on the planet.


Also read:

Garry Lu
WORDS by
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]