Ladhar Group acquisition paves way for sector resurgence

Despite the hugely difficult conditions for leisure operators, we have continued to see ambition and investment in preparation for the recovery and future prosperity of the industry.

While some have been forced to scale back, and others have sadly ceased trading altogether, others have weathered the storm as they look to emerge stronger from the other side.

Operators across the North East and beyond have taken the opportunity to invest in their premises, diversify their offering and sometimes add new properties to their portfolio. For tenants, landlord incentives have enticed them to move into buildings which have lost their occupiers during the pandemic, helping to revive town and city centres in the process.

But for some operators, their confidence in the future of their operation and the wider sector has seen major movement, huge investment and significant ambition.

One of the biggest leisure deals in the North East scene in recent years has been the acquisition of the Sir John Fitzgerald group by the Ladhar Group – both family-owned, longstanding operators in the region’s leisure economy, with Sir John Fitzgerald dating from the 1850s.

The deal – named Property Deal of the Year at the North East Property Awards 2021 – comprised the purchase of 16 leisure businesses and their associated properties, and retains ownership of a famous North East brand within the region.

The transaction was completed by Sintons, as the longstanding advisor to Ladhar Group, and was completed during a lockdown period with all parties working remotely – quite a feat to achieve, and certainly a deal like no other I have worked on, but a fantastic outcome for both businesses and the region.

The Ladhar Group have long been a hugely ambitious leisure business in the region, with an array of highly popular venues in central Newcastle which continue to see investment to ensure their offering is at the top of their game, and ongoing plans for the redevelopment of other areas of the city.

Their move to acquire another leisure business, despite the huge challenges that faced the leisure industry at that time, was brave and showed great leadership in the sector for others to follow by giving a very timely endorsement of the strength of the North East’s hospitality sector and the fact it would rise again.

Whether working with premises they already occupy, or looking to acquire new or different ones, the confidence that is returning to the sector – as well as North East town and city centres – makes this a great time to explore options and exercise ambition.

Article from our North East Leisure Supplement 2022, produced in conjunction with Sanderson Weatherall.

Alok Loomba Partner in Real Estate at Sintons – 0191 226 7843.

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