Regional pubs continue to change hands in northern NSW with sales taking place in Northern Rivers towns of Casino and Kyogle, Uralla in the New England, and Murwillumbah in the far north-east.

The Tattersalls Hotel in Casino has been sold by local publican Craig Lusby to hotelier Ned Kelly for around $9m in a deal that included both the large format Tattersalls Hotel and an additional eight gaming entitlements from a separate hotel also owned by Lusby.

Lusby says he chose to divest and to retire after almost 10 years at the helm, thanks to favourable market conditions.

Kelly has now built his regional NSW hotel portfolio to eight including Kelly’s Irish pub in Mudgee, the Criterion Hotel in Weston, and the Old Bar Tavern on the mid-north coast.

HTL Property Director Blake Edwards said: “This is undoubtedly a significant upside play for the incoming purchaser, who assessed value in the strong gaming holdings, demographic and macroeconomic drivers including a favourable pubs per capita ratio in the town.”

The Exchange Hotel in the NSW North Coast town of Kyogle has also changed hands after 43 years of ownership by June Greenaway, who originally leased the hotel from Tooth and Co, but later purchased the freehold of the property in 1990.

The purchaser is a Sydney-based hotelier, according to HTL Property’s Xavier Plunkett who managed the sale, with a successful deal completed before the asset hit the market.

Another freehold sale, this time in the New England region, was of the Thunderbolts Inn in Uralla by long-time publican Warren Moore of Moore’s Investments to the Roche Group, which holds significant agricultural and hospitality assets in the region.

The current tenant will continue to operate the business in the short term, with the Roche Group planning to operate the hotel at the expiration of the lease.

“It is a strategic asset that fits in well with the Roche Group’s wider regional hotel strategy,” said HTL’s Plunkett who also handled this sale in conjunction with Nick Tinning of Chris Tinning and Co.

The Courthouse Hotel in Murwillumbah in the far north-east of NSW has also been sold to the ASX-listed Eumundi Group, which also owns the Ashmore Tavern on the Gold Coast and the Aspley Central Tavern in Gympie. The group reportedly paid $6 million for the asset according to the Australian Financial Review, with the pub to be leased to Michael Dixon of Athena Hospitality Group for an initial term of 15 years, with four further options of ten years each.

The sale was managed by Nick Lower, Selin Ince and Leon Alaban of Savills Hotels who said that this was yet another example of unwavering demand for hotels throughout NSW.

Lower said: “We identified an operator that was keen to secure an asset in the region and we then strategically placed them with a corporate freehold investor.”

Ince said: “Pubs continue to transact at levels never witnessed before. After putting the asset to only a select few groups, the interest in the hotel is testament to the security of the asset class.

“In terms of price, we expect that strong results will only continue for the foreseeable future even despite the disruption of the Covid-19 lockdown throughout parts of NSW at present.”

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  1. We have lost one pub in Walcha to investors who bought the Apsly hotel and took the poker machines and closed the pub leaving another empty building there. It is gutting small towns. If a pub is sold it should be still be operated in the town is was purchased in.

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