Fanatics founder buys Botany’s Captain Cook Hotel

The Captain Cook Hotel, in Botany. Photo: Bob Barker.
The Captain Cook Hotel, in Botany. Photo: Bob Barker.

The boom in sales of Sydney pubs shows no sign of abating with The Captain Cook Hotel in Botany selling for about $17 million to Fanatics Group founder Warren Livingstone.

The purchase by the Sydney businessman, who founded the Fanatics more than two decades ago for sports fans that follow Australian teams and athletes around the world, gives him his third Sydney pub.

The pub market is faring well in the lower-for-longer interest rate environment in which asset prices are soaring and big financial players, such as investment bank Moelis, are moving into the pub sector to take on long-time owners including entertainment tsar Justin Hemmes and pub king Arthur Laundy.

Pubs, like The Captain Cook Hotel, can often be worked over by a new owner and Botany property is likely to get a new gaming room, as poker machine revenue has been known to rise even as discretionary spending comes under pressure.

The deal on The Captain Cook Hotel follows several Sydney pubs already changing hands this year, with transactions in which Five Dock’s Illinois and Alexandria’s Camelia Grove hotels were traded.

This makes the Botany hotel the third Sydney freehold hotel deal to be done this year and it comes after a busy period in which the Belmore Hotel ($50m), Raby Tavern ($35m) and Allawah Hotel ($33 million) also sold.

The pubs that are selling tend to offer a mix of gaming and food and beverage options for their patrons.

Livingstone will add the hotel to his existing stable of pubs, including the Charing Cross Hotel in Waverley and Hyde Park House in Darlinghurst.

HTL Property’s Sam Handy and Daniel Dragicevich negotiated the off-market transaction on behalf of long-time owners the Shannon family.

“Warren is a great publican, we congratulate him on the purchase of the hotel and genuinely can’t think of a better custodian to take the business forward in consultation with the local community,” says vendor Gina Hooper.

The Captain Cook Hotel operates under a 24hr liquor licence with 18 gaming machines and has approval for a new gaming room smoking solution designed by leading architect Paul Kelly.

“I like the Botany area and I enjoy the hotels game,” Livingstone says, noting the links to his 20-year involvement with Fanatics.

“This is my third hotel after the Charing Cross and Hyde Park House so it’s nice to get some economies of scale and buying power,” he says.

Handy says the area is home to some of NSW’s highest-performing gaming rooms and the Captain Cook Hotel might join them.

“The hotel’s gaming performance is well placed to improve following the introduction of a gaming room smoking solution,” Handy says.

“We look forward to Warren building significant value into the operation by way of implementing his food and beverage expertise in concert with activating the approved gaming room,” Handy says.

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