Harvest pays record price for Wagga Wagga pub

Jim Knox acquired every pub in Moree when he purchased the Amaroo Tavern from Waratah for $9 million last November.

Harvest Hotels has acquired central Wagga Wagga’s Victoria Hotel for $29 million – a region record price for an asset of this type.

On 1311 square metres, and with a 3am liquor licence and 28 electronic gambling machine entitlements, the venue at 55 Baylis Street includes a bar, bistro and accommodation.

It also offers wagering.

The asset is Harvest’s second in the Riverina.

“We’ve loved getting to know the locals, other business operators, community groups and the wider Wagga region since taking over the William Farrer Hotel in mid-2021, and look forward to working with the team at The Vic to create an iconic pub experience,” the buyer said.

The Victoria Hotel was offloaded by Waratah Funds Management after 15 years.

“Consistent with our recent divestment of the Amaroo Tavern in Moree, we recognise the strong demand and limited supply for quality regional hotel assets across New South Wales, the vendor’s director, Darren Baker, said.

Best pubs, big towns: funds chase quality

HTL Property’s Sam Handy, who brokered the off-market sale, said both Harvest and Waratah have focused on acquiring the “best pubs” in the state’s “strongest regional towns”.

The Victoria Hotel, he added, generates annual revenue in excess of $10.5m.

The venue consistently also ranks about 250 on the state’s quarterly gaming rankings report, according to the executive (story continues below).

It is surrounded by similarly strong performers, Mr Handy said, including the Farmers Home Hotel (which last rated #151), Kooringal Hotel (#162) and Turvey Tavern (#203).

The Victoria Hotel sale comes a week since Casula’s Crossroad Hotel – which at times earns the state’s highest gambling income – sold for nearly $160m to former Sydney lord mayor Nelson Meers.

Harvest spends again

The purchase of the Victoria Hotel caps off an acquisitive 18 months for Harvest Hotels, directed by Fraser Houghton and Chris Conforth.

Last year, the unlisted fund manager outlaid a speculated $15m for the Milestone Hotel at Dubbo, about 400 kilometres north of Wagga, and $29m for the Woy Woy Hotel, 80 kilometres north of Sydney.

In 2020 it spent $9.6m for the Brady’s Railway Hotel in Albury, about 130km south of the Victoria Hotel.

“This famous hotel enjoys a price point commensurate with the prime position and robust history of the revenue generation it so clearly promotes” Mr Handy said of the Victoria Hotel.

“As a firm, we’ve been fortunate to win engagement to sell a number of Wagga Wagga’s significant hotel assets, and the buy-side appetite for product in this region bares testimony to its economic strength and stability”, he added.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of realestatesource.com.au.