UK sportswear brand Gymshark has secured unicorn status after a fresh fundraising round saw the company’s valuation pass £1bn.

The sportswear brand has entered a strategic partnership with global growth equity firm General Atlantic, which will see the firm take a 21% stake in the business and its head of consumer for EMEA Melis Kahya Akar take a seat on Gymshark’s board.

Gymshark founder Ben Francis has also upped his stake in the brand to over 70% from his previous holding of around two thirds.

This fresh investment will drive Gymshark’s global expansion, focusing on North America.

This move makes Gymshark one of the less than 25 British firms to have achieved unicorn equity status since 2001.

The brand was founded by Francis in 2012 when he was 19 years old and, at the time, working as a pizza delivery driver.

“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,” Francis said.

“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 realising that.”