G-A-Y founder takes back control of bar chain from HMV

Jeremy Joseph puts his home on the line to buy back two-thirds of business that was HMV’s last live venue investment

Jeremy Joseph, founder of G-A-Y nightclubs and bars, has taken back control of the chain from administrators for HMV.

The business, which includes the nightclub Heaven, two bars in London and one in Manchester, was HMV’s last live venue investment after it sold London’s Jazz Cafe and Barfly, the Ritz in Manchester and the Lovebox festival in December for £7.3m. Joseph, who brought acts such as Kylie Minogue (above) to his venues, began G-A-Y as a radio programme 20 years ago and already controlled rights to the brand. He won support from Metrobank, the new UK high street bank, to buy the two-thirds of the bars and club business owned by HMV. He put his home and the company as guarantee for the multimillion-pound loan. “If this goes wrong, I lose everything, but risks are there to be taken,” he said on Facebook. G-A-Y employs about 200 people and is reported to make £0.8m of profits on turnover of £5.8m. Joseph saidalthough the business was profitable it had taken him nearly a year to secure funding for the buyout. “We could have gone under because banks aren’t looking around at the bigger picture,” he said.

The deal comes just ahead of tonight’s deadline for expressions of interest to buy HMV, set by Deloitte, the administrators for the entertainment retailer who were appointed last month. Hilco, the restructuring specialist that bought HMV’s debt last month, is expected to be first in line. Those bidding for parcels of HMV’s 230 stores, about half of which are not thought likely to be taken on by Hilco, have until Friday to register their interest.

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