Steven Speed and Peter Walker have snapped up Oscars Hotels’ Camperdown pub as the market spurs “opportunities” for leaseholds and specialist operators.
Speed and Walker’s WDS Group already operates the Bellevue Hotel, where it has just completed an upstairs refurb, and “Sydney’s Oldest Pub” the Fortune of War, in The Rocks.
The Fortune has just closed for a six-week overhaul to rejuvenate the old pub’s tired facilities and equipment, including the bar Speed says hasn’t been updated since the 1920s.
Following a short but intensive campaign for the Camperdown Hotel WDS has secured the lease, which runs until 2020, with 2 five-year options.
“It’s a good strong local that trades consistently seven days a week, which tells us it’s a good style bolt-on for our model,” Speed told PubTIC. “We see an opportunity for good owner-operator personalised service.”
Still neck-deep in construction, Speed says they will likely let dust settle at the Fortune before doing anything rash at Camperdown.
“Being a local, if you change things too dramatically you can make wrong decisions. We’ll have a look at how it operates, work out what customers want, maybe make some subtle changes, and in about 12 months look at the model and make any big decisions then.”
Oscars has produced some large-scale developments in recent years, and cited divestment of the Camperdown and Annandale hotels as furthering plans in its broader interests.
“The sale of these smaller leasehold hotels will allow us to focus on our overarching objectives of achieving best practise at our larger assets – to which we look to continually improve,” said GM Damian Cameron.
The Camperdown occupies a compact 392 m² on Parramatta Road just a few kilometres from the Sydney CBD, and boasts recent renovations to the bar, bistro and upstairs function room. It was marketed by Ray White’s Blake Edwards, who reports the anticipated “strong response” to the pub in the current climate.
“We were not surprised by the demand for the asset, considering the entry price for a metropolitan Sydney Freehold and the weekly gaming revenue the Camperdown Hotel produces. There is an enormous opportunity for a hands-on owner operator to further improve the profitability of the business.”
Set to take possession of the new venue in coming weeks, Speed says he is eager to fine-tune the Fortune of War to better meet patron demands and expectations. The struggling refrigeration and timeworn flooring is being replaced, air-con installed, and new complementary furniture sourced for the 1828 landmark.
“It’s largely about improving efficiency. It’s a small space, but popular with tourists and local business people. We really want to get it up to speed.
“We’ll stay in the heritage and ‘Sydney’s Oldest Pub’ theme – we wouldn’t change that – but make it a bit more comfortable and sustainable.”