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In Conversation With Gymshark

When Gymshark, one of the UK’s fastest growing companies approached IM Properties (IMP) about relocating from Redditch to a new 42,000 sq ft headquarters (GSHQ) at Blythe Valley Park (BVP), there was an air of excitement about what they proposed.

 Ben Francis, the 26-year old founder, announced on social media that he wasn’t going to create just any office, but the world’s greatest workspace! A bold statement from the young entrepreneur, however £4m and a lot of hard work later and the end product is every inch as inspiring as those created by some of the world’s most forward-thinking companies.

 Six months later, Gymshark continued its journey with the IMP team, investing in a further 31,000 sq ft on BVP at its nearby Connexion scheme.

We caught up with their Chief Strategic Officer, Paul Richardson, to chat about how BVP’s sense of space, parkland setting and focus on wellbeing sat well with its brand beliefs and how Connexion was ‘meant to be’, helping Gymshark to create the campus-feel they ultimately wanted to achieve.

Gymshark has always been more than just a fitness apparel brand; it’s a movement, supported by millions of like-minded social media followers and customers in 180 countries who are all considered part of the family.

Much like a family, they look after each other, nurturing relationships and encouraging respect, creativity and ideas to bring their visions to life.

So, when Paul Richardson says he gets a good vibe at Blythe Valley Park (BVP), you know this is important to him, because the happiness of his team is paramount.

“As soon as I drive through the entrance I start smiling. It doesn’t feel like a normal business park; it’s a great setting. I always look forward to coming to work here.”

A focus on wellbeing

While many of Gymshark’s competitors opt for city headquarters, BVP offered the point of difference the growing fitness apparel and accessories brand was looking for, with a focus on wellbeing in line with its beliefs for looking after and enriching its people.

“If we’d gone for a city centre office, we’d be just like everyone else. We wanted to create a modern campus feel and have space to accommodate our ambitious growth plans with room to grow as a business and as individuals.

“To us, the city didn’t fit with our focus on the mind and body. We wanted somewhere where our people could breathe and weren’t on top of each other.”

BVP is a mixed-use scheme surrounded by 122 acres of beautiful parkland. To make the most of the green open spaces, IM Properties has created a network of running and walking routes to inspire people to do meetings on the move or enjoy a lunchtime jog.

There’s also a strong wellbeing and amenity offering at the park with a Virgin Active gym and an independent Java coffee lounge, with a Busy Bees Nursey for working parents.

“Even in our Hong Kong office, where we’ve had to be in the city and space is at a premium, with people expected to be crammed into the smallest of spaces, we’ve created a workspace like the one at BVP. It immediately evokes surprise when people walk in.”

GSHQ provides bold open white spaces with large graphics to inspire and remind the team of their core values. Creative working and breakout areas promote innovation and collaboration and its focus on wellbeing has resulted in an area to bring in barbers, hairdressers and massage therapists for the staff and a bespoke restaurant with skilled chefs to think about healthy eating.

Gym and Innovation Hub – GSLC

After delivering the vision for GSHQ, attention soon turned to dreams of creating their own gym and innovation hub at IMP’s new cutting-edge Connexion campus.

Connexion, a very modern set of industrial units with a statement palette of anthracite, black and grey, just happened to match Gymshark’s brand colours and proved perfect for its continued growth plans.

“It was as if these buildings were meant to be.  I turned to Ben and said – what do you think of Connexion? His response was ‘very cool’.”

Within walking distance of Gymshark’s GSHQ, Connexion’s location was ideal to create the campus feel Paul was keen to achieve.

“It was an easy conversation to have with IM Properties about taking a further 31,000 sq ft unit. From the start they just got us and worked in partnership, trusting our vision to create something exceptional at BVP.

“The Connexion units’ design say high-tech and are very well executed. Being in a strong position financially we were able to decide to let one quickly.’’

Gymshark brought in award-winning fit-out company Oktra to do the internal layout at Connexion, having already successfully worked in partnership on the plans for GSHQ.

The innovation hub is the ultimate home to anyone interested in body conditioning and provides a base for Gymshark’s creative teams, comprising unique zones to try and test new ideas and products.

There are also five state-of-the-art photographic studios for website and social media production assets as well as a film studio for action shots. With the installation of a full mezzanine floor, there is a total of 55,000 sq ft of usable space for future expansion.

Adding to the mystique

The new gym and innovation hub at Connexion provided the launchpad for its new app Gymshark Lifting Club and added to the mystique of the brand – creating an exclusive members-only space, open only to select customers, personally invited by Ben and of course family and friends.

“Everyone hears about this place, and when you see our investment in BVP it tells our customers that we’re here to stay and we are serious about our business.

“We gain our share of market noise through innovating and being visionary, creating world-class facilities and a point of difference that makes people want to be part of the Gymshark family.”

Connectivity

Being a global and ever growing brand, connectivity is also essential to Gymshark, and BVP’s location at junction 4 of the M42 means the airport and train stations are nearby to connect them to their London and Hong Kong offices and also to the athletes, visionaries and customers from all around the globe that help them achieve their ambitions.

‘We’ve attracted some world-class talent and continue to seek out the best to ensure our progression. We have people working with us from Norway, Germany, France and London. Being based at BVP makes for a much easier sell. People visit us and are blown away by what we’ve created.

With a projected turnover of £190m in the next two years and a target of 450 employees by the end of July 2020, there’s no chance of Gymshark standing still any time soon, and they’ve still got room to expand.

“We can accommodate up to 600 people, so we’re here for the long term. IM Properties trusted in us and helped us achieve our vision. It’s a relationship based on mutual respect, and it has more than paid off for both of us.”