Port Macquarie pubs call last drinks in $100 million deal

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Tree-changers and a surge in domestic tourism have led to a rise in demand for regional pubs with Port Macquarie one of the main locales, prompting the owner of two pubs to test the market in deals valued at a collective $100 million.

The Port Macquarie Hotel and Tacking Point Tavern — owned by the same company, the Taphouse Hotel Group — are being sold separately. No sale price has been disclosed, but expectations are of the owners raising more than $100 million.

The deals follow recent sales of the Victoria Hotel in Wagga Wagga for $29 million to Harvest Hospitality by national agency HTL Property. The firm has been appointed to sell the two large-format Port Macquarie hotels.

The Port Macquarie Hotel, on the Central Coast, NSW, is being sold.

The assets generate about $25 million in annual revenue between them, with the owners undertaking a $10 million refurbishment to the Tacking Point Tavern and a $3.5 million refurbishment to the Port Macquarie Hotel, which the agents say is a “considerable attraction to prospective purchasers”.

When combined with the unparalleled pace at which the North Coast region is growing both economically and in terms of its population base, the opportunity to acquire scale is so incredibly rare

The owners are selling to take advantage of the high demand for the sector.

Veteran pub operators and investors Arthur Laundy and John Singleton have ear-marked the area for growth, saying the move out of the capital cities by people looking for a “tree change” has put the NSW Central Coast on the map.

Laundy last month paid $25 million to expand its regional hospitality portfolio with the purchase of the Mercure Central Hotel at Port Macquarie. The hotel has been managed by Accor Hotels since it opened in 2007, and it is nearby to the Laundy’s Crowne Plaza in Terrigal.

Singleton has based his operations on the Central Coast for a while; in 2019, he bought the Elanora Hotel in East Gosford for about $25 million.

Port Macquarie has strong economic and population growth prospects driven by both the existing airport, university and hospital infrastructure, as well as several large-scale residential master planned communities.

One such community is Lewis Land Group’s Sovereign Hills mixed-use masterplan, which comprises 2500 new dwellings, a 25,000-square metre town centre and significant other facilities designed to support the growth of this corridor.

HTL Property managing director, Andrew Jolliffe, said there were very few hotels nationally like the two Port Macquarie hotels on the market.

“When combined with the unparalleled pace at which the North Coast region is growing both economically and in terms of its population base, the opportunity to acquire scale is so incredibly rare,” Jolliffe said.

He said that over the past few years, the Lennox Head hotel, both pubs in Byron and the Brunswick Heads Hotel had sold to highly regarded purchasers, and the Port Macquarie Hotel and stablemate the Tacking Point Tavern would be no exception.

Situated at the epicentre of Port Macquarie’s CBD and within the beachside suburb of Lighthouse Beach respectively, the Port Macquarie Hotel and Tacking Point Tavern occupy prominent commercial footprints both adjacent to major shopping centres.

The Tacking Point Tavern in Port Macquarie, NSW.

“Both pubs enjoy the benefit of multiple revenue streams, each operate with 30 gaming machines and in the case of the Port Macquarie Hotel, a historically strong accommodation business,” said HTL Property national director Dan Dragicevich.

“The other critical attraction is the underwritten strength of Port Macquarie, whereby a local government area with more than 87,000 people is serviced by only eight hotels.”

Jolliffe added that with the prosperous tourism dollar hardwired into the city, residential growth at unprecedented levels and nothing to spend on two of the area’s key hotels, “the value proposition is as magnetic as we’ve seen”.

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