Render of the new Central Market redevelopment. Supplied by the City of Adelaide.

Shogroup, the hotel investment group headed up by James Wynne, has partnered with esteemed Victorian publican John  Upham to acquire the leasehold of the Eight Dragons pub in Adelaide’s Chinatown.

Eight Dragons is the only hotel in the Chinatown precinct, and is located adjacent to Central Market. Wynne and Upham have secured a 37-year lease, and are set to give the hotel a multi-million dollar renovation, led by renowned industry designer Tony Donnelly.

With a brief to create an entertainment, sports viewing and gaming hub for the CBD, the renovation will include a brand-new public bar, kitchen and food concept, and a 36-machine, 175sqm gaming room. 

 The venture follows Wynne’s successful sale of Pyrmont’s Dunkirk Hotel in Sydney last year, following its renovation and revival. The Dunkirk Hotel underwent a significant renovation over two years following the on-set of Covid, including a refresh of the façade, expanding and enhancing the gaming room, and refurbishing the 12 accommodation rooms. Following this transformation, the hotel experienced a 400 per cent uplift in revenue across all departments, resulting in a substantial EBITDA improvement.

The Eight Dragons acquisition represents another milestone in Shogroup’s strategy as it looks for further investments in NSW and SA with a focus on strategic locations and partnering with savvy, experienced operators.  

“We see the market, and this asset class in particular, brimming with opportunity right now,” Wynne said.

“We are actively on the lookout for opportunities where we can add value as a strategic partner and investor to hotel acquisitions. Our investment in Eight Dragons is exemplary of the type of impact we want to have – I believe this redevelopment will be a catalytic investment for Adelaide’s CBD, in particular for Chinatown and the surrounding market district.”  

For John Upham, who has owned more than 60 pubs over the last five decades, the partnership builds on his portfolio in Adelaide which consists of both freeholds and leaseholds. He recently sold Lorne Hotel in the Great Ocean Road region to Merivale for a reported $38 million. 

“There would only be a handful of publicans across the country with his level of experience and insight. I have an enormous amount of respect for John, and I’m lucky to be able to call him a partner,” stated Wynne.

Eight Dragons is located directly beside the $400m redevelopment of the Central Market and Chinatown precinct which is set to become a new social and commercial heart of Adelaide. Operating 18 hours a day over seven days a week, it will include a new residential tower, a new hotel, as well as 22,000sqm of office space. 

In total, there will be over 11,000sqm of retail space, a supermarket tenancy, 260 space car park, as well as an east/west link connecting Victoria Square directly to the Central Market and Chinatown – creating more than a thousand jobs during construction and catering to a projected 10 million people a year once complete. 

Construction on Eight Dragons Chinatown will commence immediately, and is expected to open its doors in June.

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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