Pub baron predicts economic challenges for 12-18 months
Pub baron Bruce Mathieson has seen it all in more than four decades in the hotel industry, and has no doubt COVID-19 is the worst economic situation he has experienced.
At least 80 of the hotels he jointly owns with Woolworths in Victoria are currently shut due to COVID-19 restrictions, and he has grave fears about the economic damage the coronavirus is causing not just now but also well into the future.
“I’ve been through credit crunches and recessions, but this is no doubt the worst times I’ve seen,” Mathieson tells The Australian. “And this isn’t over yet, that’s for sure.
“Obviously no one saw this coming, but it is a bad one and we won’t be out of it for a while. The true damage probably won’t come for another 12-18 months when you’ll have unemployment higher and other factors. It will be some time until we’re opened at full capacity too.”
He said the Australian economy was already relatively sluggish before the pandemic hit earlier this year, citing an example of many tenants at shopping centres near his Gold Coast homes having rental payment arrangements with landlords even before the subsequent retail downturn that smashed earnings for many.
Mathieson’s wealth is mostly derived from his pubs and poker machine joint venture ALH, jointly owned with Woolworths.