In Finance by Clyde Mooney

Click here to share this article with a friend

The latest Rich List has been announced, featuring a dozen debutants including pub king Justin Hemmes.

BRW first published its Top 200 Richest People in Australia in 1984, and counted (the late) John Hemmes and Merivale Hemmes, parents to Justin and Australia’s richest hospitality empire.

John and Merivale had an estimated wealth at the time of $12 million, emanating from success in retail with their Merivale clothing chain, which was one of Australia’s most influential in the 60s and 70s, followed by prudent investments in Sydney real estate.

The couple fell just shy of making the list again in the early Naughties, although they had already accumulated some of what are now bedrocks of the Merivale portfolio; freeholds of the CBD Hotel York Street, bought in 1993 for $3.1m, and Establishment Hotel on George Street, bought in 1998 for $9m.

Justin Hemmes

Justin Hemmes debuts at #78 on what is now the Financial Review Rich List, having dramatically increased the worth of these and at least a dozen other properties as freehold going concerns, benefitting from the good times being seen in the hospitality sector, underpinned by a business model and execution that is the envy of the industry.

The Merivale juggernaut unleashed the chequebook last year, buying the Hotel Centennial in late November, the Royal Hotel Bondi in early November, the Vic on the Park in October, and The Collaroy in August, which has since been refurbished and relaunched.

Hemmes is one of the largest group, categorised as their wealth stemming from Property, although most of the 51 names are vested in the residential boom, rather than commercial.

The 2018 Rich List of those with a relationship to hospitality and leisure are:

#14: Len Ainsworth ($4.02bn)

#66: Bruce Mathieson ($1.18bn)

#78: Justin Hemmes ($951m)

#105: Theo Karedis ($737m)

#161: John Singleton ($534m)

#170: Arthur Laundy ($506m)