Gymshark founder Ben Francis, who created a billion pound sportswear empire from his parents’ garage in Birmingham 11 years ago, has been awarded an MBE by the Prince of Wales.
The 30-year-old dropped out of Aston University in 2012 to focus on his business full time while still keeping his job as a Pizza Hut delivery driver to pay the bills.
Today, he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire at Windsor Castle for his services to the business sector.
Supported by his wife and family, Mr Francis beamed as he received the honour from Prince William in the investiture ceremony on Wednesday, after he was recognised in the King’s New Year’s Honours list.
Following the announcement earlier this year, Mr Francis said he ‘can’t believe it’.
Ben Francis, founder and chief executive of Gymshark, is supported by his family as he receives his MBE from Prince William
The 30-year-old was awarded the honour at an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle
Francis, now 30, pictured in Gymshark gym gear with his model wife Robin Callant. The pair welcomed twin sons into their lives on December 24 last year
He wrote on LinkedIn: ‘I can’t believe it but I’ve been awarded the honour of an MBE.’
‘This is probably the most surreal feeling I’ve had when being given an award. I’m so grateful to all those around me who support me in all that I do at Gymshark.’
In a Forbes billionaires list released in April, the father-of-two was estimated to have a net worth of $1.2billion (£992million), making him the UK’s youngest billionaire.
Gymshark, headquartered in Solihull, the West Midlands, is worn by some of the world’s biggest celebrities and influencers from Rita Ora to Nicole Scherzinger.
The brand – which now sells in 230 countries – has had a couple of hiccups along the way, including when it was accused of ‘virtue-signalling’ in 2020 after it used pictures of a model with her love handles on show.
‘Fat-phobic’ followers claimed influencer Nelly London, from Brighton, ‘had no business’ promoting the brand’s fitness wear and claimed they would boycott the ‘woke warriors’ over the range.
However, the entrepreneur has gone from strength to strength in his life, living a life of luxury as a self-made billionaire.
Francis, who was awarded the EY UK Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2020, married Robin Gallant, from Canada, in September 2021.
The pair welcomed twin sons on December 24 last year after announcing publicly that Robin was pregnant three months prior.
They initially met after Francis asked her to promote his brand on her social media. Since then, she moved from her home in Canada to live in the UK with him.
Francis and Robin attend a premiere for the hit series TV show Peaky Blinders
The Gymshark founder now lives the life of luxury splashing the cash on expensive motorcycles
Robin pictured on the beach in Dubai, UAE, in front of the Burj Al Arab
The brand is loved by celebs including the likes of Nicole Scherzinger
Just 11 years after founding sportswear brand Gymshark in his parents’ garage in Birmingham, Francis has amassed a $1.2bn fortune, according to the latest Forbes rich list.
The 30-year-old dropped out of Aston University in 2012 to focus on his business full time, while initially keeping his job as a Pizza Hut driver to pay the bills.
Francis originally started his company alongside friend Lewis Morgan.
Morgan, himself worth £125m, stepped back in 2014 after selling his shares because ‘money isn’t everything’, adding that ‘helping his family is the most important thing’.
Francis recently opened up about his daily habits and morning routines, telling the Insider how every morning he wakes up at 6am and makes eggs or bacon for breakfast before heading into the office – which he is in five days a week.
Often the first one in, Francis then answers his emails, goes through the week’s objectives and has lunch around 12.30pm.
He also makes sure to fit a workout at the gym later on in the evening at 6.30pm.
He said having consistent checkpoints throughout the day grounds him and keeps him productive.
From the entrepreneur’s social media accounts alone it is clear to see that the self-made billionaire lives a life of luxury by splashing the cash on expensive motorbikes as well as enjoying glamorous holidays abroad with his fitness model and influencer wife.
The Gymshark founder receiving his honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from Aston University in May
Ben switches the Gymshark clothes for a suit in what looks to be a business meeting
Francis posted this picture of himself to Instagram with the caption: ‘From the sewing machine to 10 Downing Street’
American singer and actress Nicole Scherzinger has regularly been pictured in the sportswear.
Society Management Model Jasmine Sanders was recently spotted in a raspberry Gymshark long-sleeved top and matching leggings in LA.
Victoria’s Secret model Jasmine Tookes was also spotted wearing Gymshark leggings on her way to the gym as well as fellow model Kaia Gerber.
Francis said much of the secret to his success has come from using social media influencers with large followings to wear the brand and spread the word online.
The young father has gained such popularity that he was even invited to join the then Prime Minister Theresa May’s Small Business, Scale-Ups and Entrepreneurs Business Council at 10 Downing Street.
He has also since been awarded an honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from Aston University, which he dropped out of in 2012.
The Gymshark founder posts on his instagram the brand’s new shipping containers
Also among those to be awarded an MBE this year is Chris Kamara, one of football’s most popular figures.
Kamara was made a Member of the British Empire by Prince William in the investiture ceremony on Tuesday, with the pair sharing a joke during their exchange.
The 65-year-old played for nine English professional clubs in a career spanning 20 years before going on to manage Bradford and Stoke, but in more recent years he has become best known for his work as a pundit and presenter on Sky Sports.
Lionesses stars Beth Mead and Lucy Bronze also received their MBEs for services to football after their part in England’s Euro 2022 triumph.
The pair were pictured receiving their royal honours from Prince William.
It tops off a spate of awards for Arsenal star Mead, who was the Golden Boot winner at the Euro 2022 tournament and went on to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year back in December.
The pair initially met after Francis asked her to promote his brand on her social media