Hospitality industry in higher spirits as media baron Bruce Gordon joins pubs sale

Supplied Editorial Harvest Hotels has bought Jerrabomberra Hotel

The Jerrabomberra Hotel in Queanbeyan has been sold to Harvest Hotels.

The pubs market is springing back to life.

Significant properties are changing hands in regional NSW, one of which involved media tycoon Bruce Gordon selling a famed pub.

Buyers include investment funds – with one snapping up a hotel in Queanbeyan – and wealthy individuals confident about the sector’s robust fundamentals.

Pub sales dried up last year as interest rate rises hit both values and spending, but a new round of sales shows that investors are still keen on the area.

In the largest trade, The Jerrabomberra Hotel in Queanbeyan sold to Harvest Hotels and industry experts believe the price was about $25m. The purchase was the first to be made under the newly merged Harvest Pub Fund, which comprises eight high quality, large-format pubs in high-growth regions across NSW.

Separately, media baron Bruce Gordon has offloaded the historic Scarborough Hotel.

Jerrabomberra joins Harvest’s portfolio as the 30th venue under current management. Sitting on a 2759 sqm block opposite the Jerrabomberra Village Shopping Mall and with a drive-thru bottle shop, bistro, sports bar and 30 machine gaming room, the sale of the “The Jerra” was brokered by HTL Property’s Dan Dragicevich and Sam Handy.

“The Jerrabomberra Hotel is an A-grade regional venue that presents all the intrinsic fundamentals that astute purchasers are drawn to,” Mr Handy said.

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Media tycoon Bruce Gordon. Picture: John Feder

“Exclusive catchment, high foot traffic positioning and ample parking are strategic trading cornerstones which enable successful trading longevity.”

Harvest managing director Chris Cornforth said the group had been exploring prospects in the area for years.

“We’ve previously owned and operated pubs in the nearby community of Yass, so are well acquainted with the broader region, and in meeting all our required demographic metrics, Queanbeyan has been a target area of ours for a long time,” he said.

Other large NSW transactions include the $32m sale of the Seabreeze Hotel in South West Rocks and the Central Hotel in Shellharbour for $25m.

Mr Gordon’s exit came with the sale of the historic Scarborough Hotel, which has been part of the Illawarra landscape for 138 years.

His WIN Corporation sold the property for $9.5m to the expanding Epochal Hotels business.

Perched on the Illawarra escarpment’s cliff edge, the Scarborough Hotel is on more than 3900 sqm of prime oceanfront land and is the oldest licensed premises in the area.

Epochal Hotels chief executive Glenn Piper described the Scarborough Hotel as “a rare gem among Australian pubs” and cited its beer garden views, and rich history.

WIN Corporation chief executive Andrew Lancaster said the Scarborough had been a strong asset for the company but its focus was growing and maintaining the organisation’s media and investment businesses.

“Pubs are not part of our core business and it is time for a new owner to guide this iconic site into the future,” he said.

“We are happy to have sold the Scarborough Hotel to Epochal Hotels as we are passing it into safe hands with a proven track record. Epochal Hotels has a strong understanding of pubs and hospitality and we look forward to seeing what fresh ideas they bring to the hotel.”

Epochal Hotels is behind the revamp of Freshwater’s Harbord Hotel and also Newcastle’s restored Merewether Beach Hotel. It is now refurbishing the Commodore Hotel in McMahons Point.

Epochal Hotels is also overhauling two landmark properties – Q Station on the headland of Sydney’s Northern Beaches and Hook Island in the Whitsundays, which will be turned into an eco-lodge.

Mr Piper has partnered with a small syndicate of investors on the purchase, including several NSW south coast locals.