By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier

The fastest-growing pub group in the country, Dixon Hospitality Group, has made its first foray into Sydney by purchasing all three Drinkndine venues from noted hotelier Jaime Wirth.

While Dixon Hospitality Group, headed by Michael Dixon and his father Bruce, was founded in 2012, the group made their big move in to the pub scene last year, purchasing the Open Door Pub Co’s 16 pubs, as well as Melbourne Venue Company’s nine venues in Melbourne. The purchase of the three inner Sydney Drinkndine venues, for an undisclosed amount, makes Dixon Hospitality Group the largest non-gaming pub group in the country.

Bruce Dixon, CEO of the Melbourne-based pub group, believes the Drinkndine pubs – The Oxford Tavern in Petersham, The Forresters in Surry Hills and The Norfolk in Redfern – complement their growing portfolio.

“We’re starting to get scale and we have a very good mix of gastronomic pubs, entertainment-led venues and beverage-based bars.

“The Drinkndine venues give us a presence in New South Wales and align well with our strategy of well-operated, non-gaming pubs in good locations.”

Michael Dixon, director of the company, agreed that Drinkndine is a great fit with their brand.

“It fits our model perfectly. We’re food and beverage operators with no gaming, and they’re great hotels at the end of the day. They’re renowned venues in their particular areas of Sydney."

While it may come as a surprise to many that Wirth has sold his venues, it has been something that he has been considering for a while now.

“[I was] looking to see what was happening in the market and Dixon [was] looking to expand into Sydney. Our plan had always been to sell in 3-4 years and five years have passed as it is.”

Wirth will now work in the short-term as a consultant for Dixon Hospitality Group.

“In 2016 I’ll be working with the crew at Dixon to introduce some interesting food concepts into their Melbourne venues, so hopefully Melbournians are excited by the ideas we’ve got too.

“I’m just interested in seeing if we can roll out some of the same ideas that have gone well for us in Sydney in Melbourne, and help them to rejig some of their underused spaces and venues. Hopefully the Drinkndine style also has a place in Melbourne.”

Aware of the differences between the two hospitality markets of Sydney and Melbourne, Michael Dixon is pleased to be able to draw on Wirth’s expertise as he continues to grow the company.

“Jaime brings a different edge with what he does. He’s very entrepreneurial. We’re looking into more Sydney hotels and we’ll utilise his expertise as much as we can.

“The Sydney market is changing more towards the Melbourne style of offering. Melbourne is more food-focused within their pubs. It’s really driven by the food market. Sydney pubs are starting to head towards that focus, and it’s something that Jaime in particular has done well. We really want to build on what Jaime has done up there.”

Dixon has confirmed that they will be looking to purchase more venues in Sydney in 2016.

“We’re quite active in our vision to expand. The more hands we can have on deck, the better.”

Other moves from Dixon this year included:

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