In On the Market by Clyde Mooney

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Luke Noble is selling the family’s three-storey pub outside Narrabri, mixed fortunes heralding changes to come for the Imperial.

Noble bought the Hotel with his parents 12 years ago, and has sustained an owner-operator position at the big pub ever since. But with the recent passing of his mother, and his father in ill-health, he is selling up to try to find more time to be with family.

Work had begun to upgrade the 23 pub-style accommodation rooms on the upper levels, $100k spent fitting new carpet, wiring and smoke detectors, when a Council initiative saw fire safety inspections on businesses across the whole region.

Many hotels were slapped with orders to improve fire safety. The Imperial Hotel is the only pub in the precinct of Wee Waa, but faces engineer assessments and a bill likely to total in the hundreds of thousands.

“They hit all the pubs in Narrabri Shire – some copped it worse than us,” explains Noble.

Separate to the refurbishment, the Hotel had begun to see a greater focus on its gaming operation through the purchase of five new EGMs, but these are not yet in a smoking solution.

Built on a generous 1,625sqm corner block, it also offers a function room, pool room, beer garden and drive-through bottleshop. Initiatives have begun to do fundraisers, more functions and offer a regular pool comp, to further engage with the roughly 2,000 residents of the one-pub town.

There were also thoughts of expanding the accommodation, possibly converting the large upstairs common area into three more rooms or a manager’s residence, and/or the back-of-house office space, which could become two more rooms. Another idea was to remove some of the two-dozen rooms to facilitate ensuites for those remaining.

The accommodation sometimes enjoys 100 per cent occupancy, including for nine months straight last year, mostly attracting seasonal workers employed nearby.

“I run it like I can, and try and get bums on seats,” he offers. “The business could grow 10-20 per cent, but there’s work to be done. It’s a big job on my own … I can’t keep doing it.”

Noble says he’s been working a 100+ hour week for too long, and has no time for his wife and two daughters, aged three and seven.

He had determined to list the country landmark pub for $2.1 million, but advent of the pending fire upgrades saw this reduced to $1.8 million. Total revenue in FY17 amounted to $2.45 million.

He has listed the freehold going concern with full disclosure through Manenti Quinlan’s Leonard Bongiovanni.

“The Imperial Hotel has all the great features of a classic pub, with beautiful period features and a commanding corner position,” notes Bongiovanni.

“Being the only pub in town gives an astute operator an opportunity to form an engaging relationship with a great town and acquire a venue that the town can rally behind.”