Merivale has further cemented its presence in Sydney’s inner west with the acquisition of Norton’s Irish Pub in Leichhardt.

The hospitality juggernaut also owns and operates the Vic on the Park in Marrickville, Queens Hotel in Enmore and 3 Weeds in Rozelle.

Merivale has paid roughly $24m to vendor and hotelier Peter Walker for Norton’s Irish Pub. The corner pub was sold via an off-market process directed by JLL Hotels & Hospitality’s John Musca and Ben McDonald.

Formerly known as Norton’s on Norton, the hotel has a diversified business mix including 5am trading approval and 28 EGMs, as well as an enviable high-traffic location on the corner of Parramatta Rd and Norton St – the centre of Leichhardt’s food and beverage and retail precincts.

Merivale will take over operations at Norton’s Irish pub in June. For now, the venue will trade as normal, with future plans for the venue to be announced at a later stage. The group will also reopen the doors to 3 Weeds Rozelle in the coming months after an extensive refurbishment of the neighbourhood pub. Its new offer will include the group’s third iteration of its popular Italian eatery Totti’s.

“It is such a privilege to be part of Sydney’s vibrant Inner West; every suburb has a unique energy and their local pubs play a special role in shaping their culture. We’re excited to not only expand our Inner West pub portfolio, but reopen doors to the 3 Weeds, a beautiful and much-loved local institution, this Spring,” commented Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes.

The acquisition of Norton’s is the first Sydney pub purchase for Merivale since November last year, when it purchased The DOG in the eastern suburbs. Since then, Hemmes has been looking further afield, first purchasing The Quarterdeck on the South Coast of New South Wales, followed by the group’s first interstate purchase of Tomasetti House in Melbourne.

Rumours have also run rampant over the last couple of months that Merivale have been acquiring property in Byron Bay, with the latest suggestion earlier in the week that it had purchased a former Woolworths property with the intent to turn it into a large hospitality complex. Selling agents of the property, JLL, have shot down those rumours, confirming that the property was purchased by a syndicate of private property investors.

“It’s not the first time that some of the less reliable industry media sources choose to run with secondhand stories without proper fact-checking or asking the key proponents, it makes for a good headline,” stated a selling representative.

While Merivale were the eventual successful party for Norton’s, the sale of the Leichhardt pub attracted the attention and bids of many respected publicans and hotel groups, in an ongoing show of how attractive city-fringe assets remain.

“We’re delighted to facilitate another off-market transaction on behalf of the private owners to widely respected industry stakeholders, Merivale, who continually seek to enhance and support a much-loved industry,” stated McDonald.

The 20/21 financial year has seen an increasingly large appetite for pubs from both hotel groups and savvy investors – as evidenced by the sheer value of pub sales so far this year, as Musca points out.

“The sale comes on the back of an extraordinary period of capital flow to the sector evidencing over $1 billion of pub hotel sales in F21 to date, with no sign of abatement and with a sense of fervour surrounding the pending ALH Endeavour Group IPO.”