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GC Business Finance Supports Expansion of Manchester LGBTQ+ bookshop

Manchester-based independent LGBTQ+ bookstore, QueerLit, has secured a £100,000 loan to facilitate its expansion. The funding provided by NPIF – River & GC Microfinance, managed by GC Business Finance (GCBF), as part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).

Established by Matthew Cornford, Queer Lit aims to serve the LGBTQ+ community in Manchester by providing easier access to literature that authentically represents them.

Initially, Cornford utilised a Start Up Loan from GCBF to launch the first physical store on Tib Street in Manchester. Subsequently, in collaboration with senior loan manager Andy Nichols, additional funding was secured to relocate from the current premises to a larger space on Greater Ancoats Street.

The new establishment, named the Social Refuge, features an expanded bookshop alongside amenities such as a coffee shop, co-working area, and events space. The goal is to create a central hub for Manchester's LGBTQ+ community.

Matthew Cornford, owner of QueerLit and the Social Refuge, said: "Availability to information is incredibly important to the LGBTQ+ community, with Manchester becoming the cornerstone of historic queer culture.

"QueerLit’s new relocation will serve to fulfil this purpose, creating an engaging platform for accessing key literature, while also offering new community-led initiatives."

Andy Nichols, senior loan manager at GC Business Finance, added: "The work that Matthew and the team have done over recent years is nothing short of remarkable, from mainly having an online presence to now opening a new, bigger shop in the heart of Manchester.

"It's been a pleasure to work closely with Matthew to build this funding package, ensuring this unique business continues to expand and grow. I look forward to seeing what’s next for Matthew over the next few years in building a community around this amazing shop.”

Debbie Sorby, senior manager at the British Business Bank, said: "QueerLit is a brilliant example of a modern Northern business that has succeeded in providing a community led project, while also undergoing exceptional expansion as a business.

Given the rise in Northern investments, this latest funding through NPIF will help to provide a crucial platform for businesses like QueerLit, accelerating their growth and encouraging a more diverse, inclusive business community."