Historic Newcastle pub The Empress is bought by its manager

One of Tyneside's most iconic pubs, The Empress, has a new owner in former manager Matthew Settle

Katy Lamb, Matthew Settle, Harry Costigan, David Ward and Adrian Dye
Katy Lamb, Matthew Settle, Harry Costigan, David Ward and Adrian Dye

One of Tyneside’s historic bars has undergone a management buyout.

The Empress, situated on the cobbled bank leading to the Quayside near Newcastle’s St Nicholas Cathedral, will now undergo a facelift after being sold to its manager by Leopard Leisure Leased for an undisclosed sum.

Chartered accountants and business advisers UNW advised Leopard Leisure on the deal, which will allow the vendor to focus on its real ale pub portfolio and the bar’s long-standing manager Matthew Settle to continue The Empress’s recent revival.

UNW partner and licensed trade specialist David Ward and corporate finance manager Katy Lamb guided Leopard Leisure, owned by former Pubmaster operations director Harry Costigan, through the process.

Legal advice was provided by law firm Sintons.

UNW partner David Ward said: “The Empress has undergone something of a revitalisation in recent years as Newcastle’s Diamond Strip, along Collingwood Street and beyond, has gained in popularity with local drinkers.

“The Empress has benefited from a more modern touch and is once again enjoyed by thousands of people every week.

“It made perfect sense for Matthew to take it on in the next stage of its history and we wish him every success as he makes the transition from manager to owner.”

Leopard Leisure Leased owner founder Costigan, a respected figure within the licensed trade for more than 40 years, said: “Over the years, Leopard Leased Leisure has become a popular operator with our family, community and cask ale style of outlet.

“The Empress has undergone a transformation recently into a vibrant and popular cocktail bar and, as Matthew has worked with me for more than 10 years and is one of the best managers in Newcastle, he was the perfect person to take it over.”

New Empress owner Matthew Settle said: “Having worked in the Newcastle night life for nearly 20 years, I’m extremely excited to be the owner and operator of the iconic Empress Bar.

“I’ve managed and developed it since it re-opened in 2009 and now have imminent plans to give it a facelift, while still maintaining its infamous character and strong customer following.”

Adrian Dye, partner in the Company and Commercial department at Sintons, added: “The Empress has stood the test of time and is now an established part of Newcastle’s leisure scene.

“We wish Matthew and his team all the best as they continue to take this venue forward, and also wish Harry well in his other ventures.”


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