GAK is a Brighton fixture with its spectacular shop in the North Laines – an Aladdin’s cave of guitars, amplifiers, drums, keyboards and other musical instruments. It was founded by Gary Marshall in 1992 as a local market stall but has since diversified and become an omni-retailer, with over two thirds of its revenues now generated through online sales.
The founder is handing over the business to the joint Managing Directors, Max Mckellar and Ian Stephens with the support of Risk Capital Partners, which becomes the majority shareholder. Gary is retaining a stake in the business.
In the current financial year it is expected to enjoy revenue of £35 million and record profits. It traded successfully throughout the pandemic, even though its retail outlet was unable to open some of the time. Its expert staff provide friendly advice in store, via the phone and online. The business holds a huge range of stock, enjoying strong supplier relationships with leading brands like Fender, Gibson, Roland and Yamaha.
The management at GAK plan to grow the business both online and via retail expansion, developing the brand and widening the product range in the coming years. They also intend to explore new markets.
This investment by Risk Capital Partners in GAK follows the acquisition of leading gardening website Primrose, one of the leading digital operators in consumer horticulture.
Risk Capital Partners has a strong connection with Brighton – it previously backed Neilson Active Holidays, The Laines Pub Company and Small Batch Coffee, all of which are Brighton based companies. The Chairman of Risk Capital Partners, Luke Johnson is also chairman and a major shareholder in Brighton Pier Group PLC.