The founder and, up until today the part-owner, of the G-A-Y brand has bought out shares owned by HMV, which went into administration last week.
Posting on his Facebook Page, Mr Joseph outlined the history of G-A-Y which started as a radio programme which he presented on Spectrum Radio, and that he was in partnership with four different companies, since the company was established, the most recent being HMV.
In his announcement, he says he was aware of HMV’s intentions to sell off parts of the business, including shares in G-A-Y, which was established 20 years ago.
He goes on to say that, after attempting to find an individual investor to form a partnership with, he borrowed millions of pounds from Metro Bank, in order to secure HMV’s shares of G-A-Y, and that he had used his own house and company as guarantees for the loan.
He writes: “I have completed the deal in buying HMV’s shares in G-A-Y & with the shares I already own, G-A-Y is 100 per cent owned by me, thats the brand, the bars & Heaven & with the team who work at G-A-Y, this is the beginning of a brand new era for G-A-Y.
“What the future holds I dont know, we have a huge loan to pay back, but I will say, my goal is that once the loans are paid back, G-A-Y will do more for our community, at this stage not sure how, but the brand will hopefully grow & become more than just a business but a gay brand that gives back & helps each new generation of lesbians & gay men with challenges that they face like G-A-Y has had to over the last 20 years to be where it is today.”
He concludes: “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 & I have a responsibility to all those people who believe in me & have backed me.”
He also says that he came close to walking away from the business, but that he kept G-A-Y open last weekend using his personal money. He goes on to discuss the dificulty of attempting to secure a loan, and that the reluctance of banks to loan money to businesses inhibits their growth.
In the last tax year, G-A-Y group had a turnover of £5.8 million, and its pre-tax profit was £0.8 million.
In 2006, a petition was started to save the Astoria, which hosted the G-A-Y club night, and which was sold for around £24 million to Derwent Valley developers who reports suggested wanted to turn the venue into shops. In 2006, G-A-Y was owned by the Mean Fiddler Group, a subsidiary of the American advertising and media giant Clear Channel.
Then in 2007, MAMA group, then owners of the Barfly music venue chain and the management company of top British bands such as the Kaiser Chiefs, purchased a major stake in the G-A-Y bars. MAMA then owned 75% of the shares in Manto Soho Limited (MSL), the company which operates the G-A-Y bar and G-A-Y Late club in London.