In On the Market by Clyde Mooney

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Central coast pub doyens the Hunt family have put to market their high-performing The Kent, offering up one of the biggest NSW hotel businesses north of Sydney, amid Newcastle’s ongoing renaissance.

Built 1924, The ‘Royal’ Kent dominates a corner of Hamilton main drag Beaumont Street, a few kilometres west of the Newcastle CBD.

The multi-level pub is well known for its thriving f&b operation, bolstered by a strong gaming offering regularly in the Top300, with 24 machines. Total annual revenue exceeds $8.4 million.

The Kent

Peter Hunt bought the large-format pub in 2002. His son Stephen managing operations in recent years whilst building his own portfolio in the region, which has come to include New Lambton’s Duke Of Wellington in mid-2016, Urunga’s Ocean View in mid-2017, and Port Macquarie’s Finnian’s Irish Tavern mid-2018.

The younger Hunt has previously told PubTIC of further plans for acquisitions to strengthen the portfolio.

Acquiring assets has meant bidding against the likes of big-name Sydney Hoteliers such as Arthur Laundy, Andrew Lazarus, Marcus Levy, Simon Tilley, Dan and Sean O’Hara and Mark Malloy, who have all acquired footholds in the area.

Sam Arnaout’s Iris Capital has been steadily building in the region – both literally and through acquisitions such as Elermore Vale’s Shaft Tavern. Furthermore, John Singleton’s investment arm Bonython just took East Gosford’s Elanora Hotel for a cool $23 million.

“In the last 11 months, we have sold five Newcastle region freehold hotels for a combined $60.5 million, representing significant investment as well as clear business confidence in the area,” offers HTL Property national pubs director Dan Dragicevich, marketing The Kent with Asia-Pacific director Andrew Jolliffe. 

The Kent is expected to attract similar high levels of interest, with sale price likely to surpass $25 million.

Newcastle infrastructure development has bolstered a new generation of commercial and residential assets, benefitting from an airport now welcoming international flights, and major government spend on the light rail project.

“What was initially a value bet investors were waging, has now, through the radical transformation of the Newcastle CBD and transport infrastructure, morphed into a high-conviction and mid- to long-term investment strategy of having money out to work in a reliable and growing local economy,” suggests Jolliffe.

Pulling clear of the past months, punctuated by State and Federal elections, Easter and Anzac Day, in the light of further falling interest rates, HTL see even more clarity in a focused market. 

“With continued downward pressure on interest rates, the emerging prevalence of non-traditional sources of funding, and the struggle between supply and demand perpetually imbalanced, we are maintaining our market guidance that yields will contract further before they consider any form of augmentation.”

Freehold going concern of The Kent is being sold via Expressions of Interest, closing Thursday, 4 July.