The founder of the G-A-Y franchise, Jeremy Joseph, has revealed that he has put his own home on the line to regain control of his business, which includes the original clubbing brand, the G-A-Y labelled bars and London venue Heaven. HMV was a major shareholder in the G-A-Y company as a result of its 2010 acquisition of the MAMA Group.
Joseph originally went into business with Mean Fiddler to grow the G-A-Y business, it then also operating the now gone London Astoria venue, which was the original home of the G-A-Y club night. MAMA’s acquisition of Mean Fiddler’s non-festivals business in 2007 brought G-A-Y into the MAMA Group fold, resulting in further expansion, before HMV became the parent company three years later.
HMV then announced its intent to sell its live division just over a year ago, subsequently entering into two deals last year, one with AEG and Eventim regarding flagship venue the Hammersmith Apollo, and another with MAMA co-founder Dean James regarding much of the rest of the company. However, G-A-Y was not part of either of those deals.
With the HMV Group now in administration, Joseph needed to get a deal done quickly to buy back his profitable company. After initially pursuing a possible new business partnership, a plan that ran aground for various reasons, the promoter subsequently secured funding from Metro Bank, though with the loan secured on his own home and other business interests. While that deal has seemingly been done just in time, when HMV called in the administrators last week Joseph says he was forced to withdraw money from his own bank account to keep G-A-Y operating last weekend.
Thanking his various business partners to date for helping him expand the G-A-Y business, before charting the various challenges he has faced in the last year in a bid to exercise his contractual right to buy HMV out of his company, Joseph wrote on Facebook yesterday: “As luck would have it, a friend suggested a new bank and after looking at G-A-Y accounts, they gave a yes to lending me personally millions – and I do mean millions – so thanks to Metro Bank, I was given the chance to take the biggest risk of my life and give G-A-Y a new future”.
Admitting HMV’s administration had added even more pressure, he continued: “In a time of recession and with so many companies going into administration, was this the right time to take the biggest risk of my life, borrow millions of pounds, and put my home and company up as a guarantee? Well on Tuesday I signed my life away, I’ve taken my biggest risk, going it alone, no more business partners, just me, if this goes wrong, I lose everything. But risks are there to be taken, I have a responsibility to the 200 people that G-A-Y employs, I have a responsibility to the customers who have been loyal to G-A-Y and I have a responsibility to all those people who believe in me and have backed me”.
He concluded: “So the announcement is that I have completed the deal in buying HMV’s shares in G-A-Y and with the shares I already own, G-A-Y is 100% owned by me: that’s the brand, the bars and Heaven. And with the team who work at G-A-Y, this is the beginning of a brand new era”.
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