In the 2022 Australian Hotelier Industry Leaders Forum, Black Rhino Group director David Tomsic looks back on a year of strong growth for the group.

2021 has been a significant year for pub operator Black Rhino Group with portfolio expansion through acquisition in its home state of Victoria and its entrance into South Australia.

It started with the acquisition of the Grand Hotel in Mornington in January. “By the end of July, we had added six more venues across regional and metropolitan Victoria,” director David Tomsic says.

The population boom in Victoria over the last ten years has seen the return of the local pub, according to Tomsic.

“With the suburbs continuing to sprawl and increase in congested traffic, we’ve noticed that people are less prepared to head into the CBD and surrounding precincts to enjoy a night out and instead turn to their neighbourhood hotel. 

“Our aim is to take on those hotels and capitally and operationally enhance them to their full potential to give the locals the best experience in their area,” he says.

“Throughout our journey, we’ve seen significant growth after extensive renovations to hotels in regional areas, which has given us full confidence to venture further away from our central operation. 

“We’ve now got footprints in towns all over Victoria – with more to come – and we are currently going through project planning for each site.”

South Australian activity

Black Rhino Group also entered the South Australian market with four hotels added to the portfolio in recent months, and with seven more to come over the next year. 

“We’ve taken on some great businesses that are already stalwarts of their local areas and we’ve also taken on some that need significant capital improvement to reach their full potential,” Tomsic says.  

He is predicting massive growth in South Australia over the next five years. “As we have in Victoria, we have targeted areas where the hotels are ingrained into the local communities as well as others in metropolitan areas that need some updating.”

Business improvement

The portfolio is not the only thing that’s grown, according to Tomsic. “Our head office has almost doubled in size from last year, some of whom had started in our hotels as casuals while studying at uni and have taken opportunities to grow within our group.”

The last two years have been undeniably tough on the entire industry, though, so Black Rhino has taken the opportunity to simplify its business model.

“We’ve implemented new TITO technology in our gaming rooms, closed underperforming and laboursome departments of selected venues, and of course begun our expansion into South Australia. It forced us to honestly reflect on who we are and what our strengths are and how to maximise our potential,” Tomsic says.

“The efficiencies have been a game-changer for us. It makes it easier to manage on all levels, more enjoyable for our staff to work and above else ensure longevity in our business.”

Looking ahead

2022 is shaping up as another big and exciting year for the group, Tomsic says. “We have a number of acquisitions to add to our portfolio across South Australia and Victoria, which will see us grow to 35 venues by the end of 2022.

“2023 is also looking to be an exciting year for us, as we have purchased a MONSTER pub which will be acquired in June 2023, we can’t wait to share this with you when the time is right.”

Black Rhino also has extensive renovations planned for about five of its sites which will see them become leading businesses within their community, Tomsic says.

“We’ll continue to expand and develop our people, especially those with an undeniable passion for the industry. The sky is the limit with Black Rhino.”

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