In Property by Clyde Mooney

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Adam Derwin has sold his large-format Clarendon Hotel freehold going concern to an industry newcomer for $6 million.

The heart of Clarendon resides on the corner of Hawkesbury Valley Way and Racecourse Road, which leads into Hawkesbury Race Club. The Tavern is part of a strata block including an Oporto’s and a BP service station.

Clarendon is a suburb of outer western Sydney, around 62 kilometres from the CBD on Route B59 to Richmond. It is best known for the Racecourse, Hawkesbury Showground and being adjacent to the RAAF Base Richmond.

Ambitious businessman Luke Ainscough owns a civil and haulage company and invests in property development, and looked to acquire an asset where he could add value.

He engaged HTL Property’s Blake Edwards to source a suitable pub, and settled on Derwin’s Clarendon, which counts a public bar, bistro, spacious function area on the first floor, and gaming room with 12 EGMs.

As a died-in-the-wool local Ainscough understands the potential of the pub, now a 32-year-old recalling the days in his late teens when the Clarendon “used to go off!”. Now supporting a family of his own and four-year-old daughter, he plans to restore “what it was”, but in tune with how he sees today’s demographic.

“I’m very family-oriented,” he says. “I’m going to put a kids’ play area in and a barber shop, get the function area better, and just really focus on families.

“You can’t go anywhere without them, so if you don’t cater for kids it makes it really hard to get people there.”

The pub is an example of what is currently a rare entry-level freehold in Sydney’s competitive hotel market. Many sales campaigns are being conducted off-market, despite the potential to be stifled, as emergent sellers fear the spotlight of selling at market peak while opportunities continue to be scarce.

As the surge in house prices seen over the past five years in Sydney and Melbourne continues to come off the boil and auction clearance rates continue to drop, the hotel market’s trajectory is yet to change, which may finally see more hesitant hoteliers consider public campaigns.

“Other sectors of the Sydney real estate market are under pressure, with banks tightening their lending criteria,” notes Edwards.

“However, pubs – particularly ones with solid gaming revenue – are still attracting lots of attention.”

Clarendon Tavern