In Property by Clyde Mooney

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Arthur Laundy has won the race to Drummoyne’s big Oxford Hotel for circa $42 million, securing a deal in just two weeks from owner-operators Michael Wiggins and Joanne Cassar.

Wiggins and Cassar bought the Oxford from Iris Group in 2015 for around $34 million, after selling their prized Royal Exhibition.

The historic Oxford is a landmark of Drummoyne, on a 974sqm corner site at Victoria and Lyons Roads. The title includes an adjoining retail lot, delivering $132k annual rent. 

The large pub serves up a thriving food & beverage operation and enjoys limited local competition. The gaming operation, with 30 machines, is a consistent top performer. It recently gained approval to trade until 4am, and a DA has been lodged to increase the size of the room.

An as-yet unused rooftop area is likely to bring considerable blue sky to the business, which is zoned B4 mixed-use with a 15-metre height limit, potentially offering further development opportunity in the future.

Wiggins and Cassar engaged HTL Property directors Dan Dragicevich and Sam Handy to market the asset in mid-June, with price expectation in the low $40s.

Arthur Laundy owned Surry Hills’ Royal Exhibition from 1965 to 1971, being only his second pub title in a career that has gone on to see almost 100 pubs bought and sold.

Hearing a young couple had bought it and finding himself nearby, he called in one day and met Mike and Jo for the first time.

“I said to them ‘I wanted to offer you good luck. This was my second hotel and it meant so much to me’.”

Having not seen them again for half a decade, Laundy learned of the sale process of the Oxford and moved quickly to inspect. He met with Wiggins and Cassar and a deal was swiftly done, early in the campaign, with contracts signed late today. 

“He came up with a figure and I said you’ve got me, and we shook hands,” says Laundy.

“I said a handshake is as good as a contract as far as I’m concerned, and he said ‘it is with me too’ and he held to his word.

“All I can say about Mike and Jo is they are as honourable people as I have ever done business with in the hotel trade.”

Laundy described the Hotel as “a treat” and says the rooftop bar, which he intends to activate, will be “as good or better than any in Sydney”.

As figures emerge the pub sector saw in the region of $900 million in sales in FY19, Wiggins says he is very pleased with the result.

“When we engaged HTL Property to market the asset we couldn’t have envisaged such a great outcome in such a short period of time.

“I have a very high opinion of Arthur and his family, and congratulate them on purchasing what will continue to be an exceptional asset for years to come.”

Wiggins and Cassar are illustrative of the kind of opportunities the pub market can and frequently does provide operators, of all asset sizes, and HTL suggests the market is seeing “as active a transaction landscape as ever”.

“Having only bought their first Hotel in 2011, the Royal Exhibition in Surry Hills, they have now sold their second venue less than eight years later to one of the undisputed industry heavyweights, Arthur Laundy,” notes HTL national pub director, Dan Dragicevich.