The Greys is at risk of closure. Join us to help save it!
We need to raise up to £300,000* by 31st December 2017 to support our bid to buy the freehold and run The Greys as a freehouse for the benefit of the local community.
The Greys pub has a proud history of staging live music, presenting acts from all over the world attracted by its intimacy and knowledgeable audience. We feel that there isn't another pub quite like it in the area, and it will make a brilliant resource in community hands.
If we're successful, we'll be able to run The Greys as a community freehouse with real ales, craft beers and local favourites, and a warm and friendly welcome.
We want The Greys to be owned and used by the people who'll love it – you!
You'll become an owner of the pub alongside like-minded fellow investors. And if we hit our trading targets, we'll be able to offer small rates of interest to investors and allow you to be repaid your investment in the future.
Caroline Lucas MP - "Local pubs play such an important role in our communities, and with so many at risk of closure and redevelopment, I fully support the Crowdfunder to purchase The Greys and keep it open for community use. It's a pub that's full of character, with such potential to be an amazing community resource in residents' hands. I wish the campaign every success, and I hope that everyone gets behind the Crowdfunder so that The Greys can remain open to serve the Hanover area as a meeting place, live entertainment venue, and so much more, for many years to come."
The Story So Far
The Greys (formally known as The Bricklayers Arms) has traded in Hanover as a public house since 1878.
Then along came Mike Lance and during his management The Greys attracted an amazing bunch of weird, unconventional, and sometimes downright strange 'regulars' including artists, writers, musicians and TV personalities.
In 2004 the pub was included in the licensing trade's list of the best 20 pubs in the country and it is the only pub-restaurant in Brighton to have been recommended by Egon Ronay and the AA under the creative direction of Jean Paul Salpetier. It was judged (long before the term gastro-pub was invented) to be among an elite band of establishments to combine a near-perfect mix of food, drink and atmosphere – and was one of only two pubs in Sussex to feature!
The Greys still attracts folk, country and blues artists from all over the world. Performers at The Greys have included Damien Rice, Phill Jupitus, Georgie Fame, Isaac Guillory, Neil Innes, John Cooper Clarke, John Otway, Kiki Dee, and Lene Lovich.
But, The Greys no longer fits within a large corporate model. Community ownership represents an incredible opportunity for The Greys to once again reflect the character and personality of the people it serves.
Earlier this year the pub was put up for sale as a freehold property by its current owners. Even before this was officially announced, a group of residents had formed with the dream of trying to Save The Greys. The ambition: to buy the freehold with funds raised from a mixture of a share issue, grants and loans and to run the pub as a community-owned Free House.
Who are we?
The Friends of The Greys Community Benefit Society is a group of people who care passionately about The Greys – for its community and heritage value and its future role in the collective life of Hanover.
You can find more details about everyone on the project team in the business plan, which can be downloaded or viewed via the link at the bottom of the page.
The founders and directors of the Society who have organised this community share offer will not benefit from their voluntary work, or have any additional personal interest over and above that associated with any shares that they purchase on the same basis as any other applicant.
Since our successful campaign to persuade the council to declare the pub an Asset of Community Value, we've been busy carrying out research, community consultation and marketing activities, registering legal documents, procuring professional surveys and advice, and developing a comprehensive business plan and share offer. Now we are reaching out to you.
The vision is simple: to bring The Greys back to its best – a pub serving great beer and good food in a friendly atmosphere. And to keep the pub’s reputation across Sussex and beyond as an outstanding venue to enjoy some of the best live music around.
The major innovation will be the use of the pub as a space for daytime community activities and events. An interior refurbishment will give us the chance to optimise it for daytime community use – without losing any of its evening atmosphere.
The Friends of The Greys CBS wants to benefit from the experience and expertise of pub professionals so aims to recruit a first class pub manager to share and take part in our vision.
What we'll use the money for
We are raising money to buy The Greys Freehold, undertake some refurbishment, buy stock, and open and run the pub. This will include necessary professional fees involved in raising the cash and completing the purchase.
We will plan a programme of refurbishment of the inside and outside areas and bar, upgrade WiFi to facilitate community group activities and aim to invest in (upgrading where possible) the existing sound and lighting equipment.
Our financial projections indicate that The Greys can be run sustainably in community hands. That's partly because we'll have greater choice about who we buy the beer from and so will get a better price, but also because as a community-owned pub, we expect that (like all the other community-owned pubs) we will benefit from increased trade.
We're finalising our projections as we speak, and they'll be available as soon as we've double-checked them.
Who can invest?
- Anyone aged 16 or above can invest. The minimum investment needed to become a shareholder is £250, and the maximum is £20,000.
- Groups of people, clubs or companies can also invest but the shares will be held in trust by whomever transacts the payment via Crowdfunder.
- If £250 is out of reach, people can donate £25 to show support for the campaign, but will not receive any of the rights of membership.
The benefits to you...
- Being part of a community project that makes a difference to people;
- Membership of the society which owns the pub and elects the board of Directors who oversee the pub.
- The tax man could give you 50% or 30% of your investment back (see below).
We have applied to HMRC for Seed Enterprise Investment Relief which, if granted, would mean the investors in the first £150,000 of investment we receive could reclaim 50% of what they have invested.
We've also applied for SITR tax relief for the investment which, if successful (and we expect to be) will mean every investor who pays income tax can claim up to 30% of the value of their investment from HMRC against their tax liability through the SITR scheme for the current or previous year (investment needs to be held for a minimum of 3 years to qualify);
NB - If you are in any doubt about the availability of any tax reliefs, or the tax treatment of your investment, you should obtain independent tax advice before proceeding with your investment.
The benefits to the community...
- Securing The Greys as a long-term asset for the community;
- A safe, supportive, accessible environment for everyone, including older people, teenagers, minority groups and isolated individuals, to feel welcome and meet people;
- An events program supporting and promoting local live music;
- A facility that enables participation in social, cultural and leisure activities for all sectors of the community;
- Support and investment in other community projects that meet our values
What are community shares?
Community shares are withdrawable shares that cannot be sold, traded or transferred between Members, unlike shares in a typical company. All Members are entitled to one vote – regardless of how many shares they hold.
We have the ability to offer interest on the share capital should trading conditions allow. We'd not be paying interest for the first three years to give us time to bed the business in, and after that point, it would be capped at 5%, with the precise percentage agreed at the Annual General Meeting by members. Interest may be added to shareholder accounts or paid in vouchers for the services provided by the Society.
If the Board are allowing withdrawals, they’ll let everyone know, and withdrawals will be on a first-come first served basis. In order to give the Pub time to get on its feet, no withdrawals will be allowed for the first three years at the earliest.
What’s the worst that can happen? – There are no guarantees in any line of business and the worst that can happen is that you lose the money you have invested in the event of the Pub failing. If we’re not successful and become insolvent, our assets – the Pub and any cash reserves - will be used to pay off creditors first. If there’s any funds left over, we might be able to return people’s investment to them.
You won’t be liable for any more money in any event, but the money you have invested could be lost. You have no right to compensation from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, or recourse to an ombudsman.
As the society has an asset lock, in the event of the pub being sold and there being money left over after paying off the creditors and shareholder investment at face value, all remaining surpluses will be given to the benefit of the community, not to shareholders.
* Our target of £300,000 is based on the assumption that we will also be successful in raising:
- £100,000 matched investment through Big Society Capital,
- £100,000 of loan and grant support from More than A Pub
These together with the community share investments takes us to the total target of £500,000.
No money paid is paid to us until the Crowdfunder campaign is declared a success, and we have the finance in place to complete the purchase of the pub, and everyone will be given notice of this happening.
If we're not successful in raising either or both of these, we might keep the share offer open to try and make it up through additional investment, and/or also look to raise debt finance from institutional lenders. In the latter case, we will look at the impact of any costs of finance on the financial projections and communicate this to everyone who has invested so they are aware of that impact, and people will be able to decide whether they want to remain as an investor, or back out at that stage if they don't like the new figures.
PLEASE NOTE - By making a pledge you are registering your commitment to invest. We will only be passed money if we reach our target, but if we do, then unless you cancel your pledge, the investment will be made automatically.
There's more information about the share issue, your rights as a shareholder, about us and our interim board of Directors in the Business Plan Document, which can be downloaded here. We'd encourage everyone thinking of investing to have a read first to be sure you understand your investment.
Anyone investing agrees to be bound by the rules of the society, which are available here.