By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier

Dixon Hospitality has purchased the leasehold of Shenannigans in Darwin, its first venue in the Northern Territory.

Dixon Hospitality has spent the last two years acquiring groups such as Open Door Pub Co and Drink ‘N’ Dine; and pub portfolios such as the Beer Deluxe branded pubss and several ex-Keystone venues. Not only has the group expanded rapidly in those two years, but it quickly went from a Melbourne-based group, and spread out into New South Wales and Queensland.  With the purchase of Shenannigans, the group is now operating in another Australian market.

This is the first acquisition for Dixon Hospitality since it was announced in July that global investment firm KKR purchased a majority stake in the group.

Shenannigans was opened 21 years ago by brothers Justin and Michael Coleman, one of the first venues to make Mitchell Street in Darwin an entertainment precinct.

With their own hospitality portfolio in Darwin growing, Justin Coleman said that the sale of the Irish-themed pub was bittersweet, but the right decision.

“We’ve put our hearts and souls into Shenannigans. Everyone who works and drinks there knows it’s one big family, so it can be hard to move on. However, with our portfolio of hospitality ventures growing and the opening next year of our biggest project to date at the Gateway Shopping complex, the timing is right.”

Paul Waterson, group CEO of Dixon Hospitality was pleased with the acquisition.

“Shenannigans is a great business with a loyal local following, we are very excited at the prospect of growing into the Darwin market and this was the perfect opportunity.”

Coleman is confident that Dixon Hospitality will continue to operate Shennanigans to the same standards they have for the last two decades, and was happy in the knowledge that all staff would be retained.

“Most importantly, they have committed to employ each and every staff member on the same terms and conditions and there’ll be no job losses.

“We’d like to pay tribute to the 4000 plus staff who’ve worked at the pub since its inception and have been the backbone of this business.”

The sale price has remain undisclosed due to a confidentiality agreement, but the two groups will work together in the transition period to ensure the optimal running of the venue.

“We very much appreciate the current owners Justin and Michael Coleman’s support in the transition phase, we are look forward to working alongside the current team at Shenannigans to continue to deliver locals with great food, drinks and entertainment,” stated Waterson.

While Darwin has some great local operators, very few of the larger national groups are active in the market. Waterson expects Dixon Hospitality to continue to grow in the area.

“Managing multiple brands nationally has its challenges, I don’t necessarily think Darwin has been overlooked, operators are just focused on the opportunities close to home base first.  We have big growth plans, and as such Darwin is a very attractive market for us.”

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