AUSWILDS TO DIVEST UPSIDE FIGTREE HOTEL

In On the Market by Clyde Mooney

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As investor attentions continue in high-performing regional landmarks, the Auswild family is divesting its long-held Figtree Hotel, managed by the Waugh Group.

Siblings Barbara and James Auswild own pubs including the Rose Bay and Wollongong’s big Figtree.

The large-format pub sits on a 9,300 m² block on the four-lane Princes Highway, close to the CBD, Port Kembla and University of Wollongong, in the high-performing Wollongong LGA.

It boasts a sports bar, bistro, TAB, gaming room with 15 EGMs, drive-in bottle shop and accommodation, but has been somewhat undercapitalised in comparison with most of its competitors in the area.

The generous site offers potential for mixed-use and has just been re-zoned Band 3 (from Band 2), meaning the barriers to entry will give existing operations in the area a distinct advantage. The pub holds SIA for up to 25 machines.

The Figtree is being marketed by Ray White Hotels, and Asia-Pacific director Andrew Jolliffe told PubTIC there are plenty of upsides for a hands-on owner-operator.

“The pub would benefit from capital in the form of aesthetic treatment. There is definitely an opportunity to upgrade the experience for patrons.”

Jolliffe says the state of the pub market – coupled with Ray White’s long association with auctions – will see the Figtree also go to auction, alongside JDA Hotels’ top-gamer, the Tennyson Hotel.

“Auctions are always well supported by the industry and they are at our core. On that basis, I think we are well placed in the market to reintroduce the practise of auctions into the asset class.

“We hope to see them as a staple activity for 2017.”

The Auswilds are related by marriage to the late William (Bill) Waugh, whose family’s management company currently runs the day-to-day at the Figtree. The Waugh family’s other pub entity, Public House Management Group, co-owns the award-winning Collaroy Hotel with the Auswilds.

The Figtree is being divested as considered non-core.

It will be auctioned at the CBD offices of Ray White by acclaimed auctioneer (and keeper of the hammer on the 2016 finale of The Block) Damian Cooley, on 1 December.

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