Leisure company acquisition completed by Sintons

A North East leisure group is under new ownership after being sold to a fellow family-owned operator in one of the biggest deals in the region’s sector during 2020.

Sir John Fitzgerald has been purchased by Ladhar Group, after it was put on the market earlier in the autumn.

The landmark deal was completed by Sintons, the longstanding advisors to the Ladhar Group, and ensures Sir John Fitzgerald’s North East heritage and ownership remain firmly in the city.

The group was formed in Newcastle in the 1850s when a young John Fitzgerald moved from Tipperary in Ireland to settle in Newcastle.

By 1900, he owned several bars in the city, but well as founding the pub chain, he was known for his philanthropy. Having served as Sherrif, Alderman and Newcastle’s Lord Mayor in 1914-15, he was later knighted for his services to the city.

Since the early 1970s the company has been run by his great grandson David Horgan.

The Ladhar Group, which works across the care, property and leisure sectors, was built by brothers Amarjit and Baldev Ladhar and is now run by their sons Barry and Michael, with its substantial leisure portfolio already including the likes of city centre go-to venues Pleased To Meet You, Redhouse and Lady Greys.

Through its acquisition, it adds popular venues across the region to its portfolio, including Crown Posada and Bacchus in Newcastle, 29 Bar and Kitchen in Tynemouth, The Manor House in Stockton, The Ridley Arms in Morpeth, Twin Farms in Kenton Bank Foot and The Pavilion in Backworth.

Barry Ladhar, director of Crafted Projects, which will incorporate the Fitzgerald pubs, said: “We are absolutely delighted to own one of the city’s most iconic companies and to be able to keep it in our home city.

“The Fitzgerald family has given so much to Newcastle and we are both thankful and proud to have been entrusted with taking on the pub estate which has built up such a superb and well-deserved reputation.

“We don’t need to tell anyone how difficult 2020 has been but we are very positive about the future. We are seeing tremendous investment in Newcastle and we want to continue to play a big part in that.

“The purchase of Sir John Fitzgerald fits in with our ambitions to ensure the hospitality sector and night-time economy of Newcastle will once again thrive when the pandemic passes.

“We recognise the importance of the generational family ties to the business and its development, which mirror our own experiences. We are delighted to be able to continue the family ethos that runs throughout the Sir John Fitzgerald group.

“Sir John Fitzgerald has not stood still over the last 125 years; it has retained historic character pubs whilst developing new, modern pubs and restaurants – as we have. The opportunity for synergy between our respective estates is an exciting one, and one we intend wholeheartedly to embrace.

“We believe our proven track record; our ability to combine the historic with the new; our emphasis, like SJF, on quality; our local, family base; places us, perhaps uniquely, in an ideal position to move the combined businesses forward for the future generations of patrons.”

Christopher Welch, managing partner and corporate lawyer at Sintons, and real estate partner Alok Loomba completed the deal on behalf of their client Ladhar Group, with support from colleagues across the firm.

Jane Meikle, head of banking, and corporate partner Adrian Dye also worked on the transaction, alongside specialists in Sintons’ employment team.

“This is a hugely significant deal for the North East’s leisure sector and one which unites two highly-esteemed, family-owned operators into one ambitious group, which is well placed to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead, post pandemic,” says Christopher.

“We have supported our client with their ongoing expansion for many years, and we are delighted to have completed this deal on their behalf, which is undoubtedly one of the biggest leisure transactions of 2020 for the region.”

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