The director of Open Arms Hospitality, Craig Shearer, spoke with Australian Hotelier for the 2018 Annual Industry Leaders Forum edition of the magazine. The following is an excerpt of the interview.

What is your assessment of Open Arm’s first year of operations?

The year has been really exciting as we transitioned from the old Beer DeLuxe/Armada Hospitality company to the new Open Arms business. We ramped up pretty quickly as we brought two new venues to life [Public House Albury and Riverland, Brisbane] and acquired a third venue for the portfolio [The Plough Inn, Brisbane].

What has been the logistical experience of operating venues in different states, but not where you’re based?

Obviously we had a fair bit of experience with the Beer DeLuxe Group which has allowed us to implement some great systems and procedures (we call it Rhythm & Data) which allows us to operate the venues efficiently. It involves a bit of travel for us, but we love getting out to the venues to catch up with the staff as often as possible.

You have a partnership with US-based Delaware North, looking to create an Australian gaming portfolio – how is that coming along?

We are absolutely loving the partnership with Delaware North. They are a wonderful company to work with and have some really great people. And working with Simon Gardner (ex-Pegasus Leisure Group) has been great. Simon is such a well-respected professional operator and this has really helped us to understand and work in a slightly more corporatised environment. We are working hard to bring some exciting acquisitions to fruition in early 2018 which will build a nice platform for growth for many years to come. It’s quite exciting to think of what this business can grow into.

What can we expect from Open Arms Hospitality in 2018?

We are actively looking for new greenfield (or brownfield) sites to develop on, and would ideally like to tack on some more large-scale F&B businesses to the portfolio, hopefully with one a little closer to home in Victoria.

To read the rest of the interview, keep an eye out for Australian Hotelier’s Annual Industry Leaders Forum issue, out soon.

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