The race to own regional pubs continues with the announcement of the multi-million dollar off-market sale of the Thunderbolts Inn in Uralla last week.
This is the fourth New England North West pub sale announced by HTL Property in the last month.
First, the Whitebull Hotel sold for the record price of $13.25 million to established hotelier Jim Knox; then, it was announced Mr Knox had also bought The Royal Hotel in Moree.
Last month, the Royal Hotel in Armidale was sold for more than $5 million to the Roche Group (headed by Bill and Imelda Roche), and now the company has bought the Thunderbolts Inn.
Xavier Plunkett of HTL Property said he was delighted with the deal for the freehold hotel, which sold for more than $3million.
The stately, two-storey Federation structure known locally as 'the bottom pub' comprises a public bar, commercial kitchen, bistro, TAB, gaming room with 9 poker machine licences, and accommodation.
Around 6000sqm of land with redevelopment or subdivision opportunities attached was also part of the deal.
The Roche Group, which holds significant agricultural and hospitality assets in the region, purchased the property from long-time publican Warren Moore of Moore's Investments.
Mr Plunkett said the current tenant would continue to operate the business in the short term.
"However, the incoming purchasers enjoy the capacity and intent to operate the hotel at the expiration of the current lessee's interest," he said.
"It is a strategic asset that fits in well with the Roche Group's wider regional hotel strategy."
The Thunderbolts Inn is located on the main thoroughfare connecting Tamworth and Armidale - the two largest regional centres in New England.
Mr Plunkett said Uralla appealed to investors because it is a 'thriving satellite town' supporting a strong rural economy.
"It has a combination of high-value agricultural enterprises and a strong domestic tourism appeal," he said.
"Uralla has outperformed many of the other towns in the region in the past 10 years.
"The booming local agricultural sector has driven population growth for a town of its size, and local tourism is strong and is further stimulating economic activity for the town."
Uralla's popularity with day-trippers in the region and strong art gallery and cultural scene was part of the appeal Mr Plunkett said, along with its popular museums, quality cafes, bakeries, and pubs; and the 'locally famous but truly world-class pie shop'.
"The acquisition of Thunderbolts Inn by Roche Group is another vote of confidence in the New England economy and wider regional hotel market in general," he said.
"There was significant off-market interest in the pub, and multiple acceptable offers were made throughout the sales process."
In the past month, more than $40 million worth of hotel assets have been sold by HTL Property in the New England region.
HTL Property managing director Andrew Jolliffe said other factors as well as 'highly desirable yields' in regional areas were driving sales.
"Increased regional migration, regional infrastructure spending, a lower susceptibility to COVID-19 related lockdown measures; and a robust agriculture-led rural economy are all major drivers of positive sentiment in the regional hotel space," Mr Joliffe said.
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