Speaking to Australian Hotelier for its 2018 Leaders Forum issue, Sam McInnes, the General Manager of the Hurley Hotel Group, which is one of the biggest pub groups in South Australia has revealed 2018 is shaping up to be a ‘busy and interesting year’.

Speaking about some of the highlights and challenges for the group in 2017, McInnes told Australian Hotelier that while there is growth for its food business, there are some challenges in finding staff, especially after the Government introduced changes to the 457 visa.

“On the good side we continued to fare pretty well despite Adelaide being in low growth and being exceptionally competitive,” McInnes said.

“The food area of our business continues to grow well – we put a lot of time and resources into getting that right. Each of our hotels has its own identity, while at the back end we have common supplier agreements and similar practices and management.

“In business there are always challenges. Although we have a pretty stable workforce, finding kitchen staff remains difficult. The changes to 457 visa rules haven’t helped, and there also seems to be a growing reluctance for school leavers to start a chef apprenticeship.”

Looking ahead, the group is planning a massive $13m revamp of its Marion Hotel, which McInnes detailed.

“The last major renovation of the Marion was in 1997. Although we keep our hotels well maintained, the design and layout of the Marion is due for a change.

“The large open plan design for the bistro and gaming room has had its time, and now it’s about making interesting spaces and still having the capacity for the big occasions. Additionally we are adapting to changing markets. The existing large public bar was built to accommodate the now closed Mitsubishi Factory nearby.

“Our Sip’n Save branded bottle shop has outgrown its original home and needs modernising.

“About half of the overall project relates to a new five-storey accommodation tower providing an additional 52 rooms. The revamp of the old Mitsubishi site at Tonsley and the SA Aquatic Centre at Marion are just a couple of growth drivers in the inner southern area that are giving us the confidence to invest.”

The Marion revamp is not the only project the Hurley Hotel Group has in the pipeline for 2018, as McInnes told Australian Hotelier.

“It’s shaping up to be a busy and interesting year,” he said.

“The Hackney Hotel apartment project approval has been a long-winded affair. In December the site was given State Government ‘Urban Corridor rezoning’ which allows us to build proposed apartments higher than originally planned. We will revisit our plans now and work out what is best for the site, while retaining the original two-storey hotel.

“We have been involved in the Murray Bridge Racecourse redevelopment for many years, a joint venture that is relocating the Murray Bridge Racecourse out of the main part of town to a greenfield site. Our main involvement is selling the 400 lots at the old racecourse and potentially 3000 lots around the new racecourse. The new track is prepared, and the new racing club facility building started in December.”

For more from McInnes and other key personnel in Australian liquor and hospitality industry take a look at the 2018 Leaders Forum issue of Australian Hotelier and National Liquor News.

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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