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Black Rhino Group charges into SA pub market

Business

An interstate player has joined SA’s hotel market, with the increasing competition a “very positive” sign for the industry and state as a whole, according to South Australia’s peak hotel body.

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Victorian hotel owner Dave Tomsic, who’s behind about 20 gaming venues, hotels and nightclubs across Melbourne and regional Victoria, has added the Portside Tavern in Port Pirie to his property portfolio.

He said the move was part of a larger plan to buy up a number of South Australian hospitality and accommodation venues for refurbishment.

Tomsic – and his wife Deborah Mathieson-Tomsic – are behind the Black Rhino Group, which bought the Tavern for $3.6 million. It was the group’s second pub in South Australia following the purchase of the Newmarket Hotel in Port Adelaide for $4 million earlier this month.

The Victorian told InDaily the group had signed a heads of agreement on a further two SA regional pubs as well as a city venue and was on the hunt for more hotels with plans to renovate the buildings.

He said comparatively low property prices in South Australia made the state attractive to interstate buyers.

“The prices in Melbourne are out of control and we looked in Sydney and the prices are out of control there too,” he said.

“I like Queensland but it’s just that bit further and South Australia is beautiful and not too far. You can get in your car and drive or it’s just a one-hour flight.”

Black Rhino is the latest player to join SA’s hotels market, with the increased competition a positive for the state, according to the South Australian Hotels Association.

It joins the Woolworths-owned ALH Group, Hurley Hotel Group, Saturno Group, Australian Venue Co, Duxton Pubs and Matthews Hospitality as major players in SA’s pub ownership scene.

Tomsic, a former bricklayer turned hotel mogul, said he got his start in the property sector as co-founder of PubCo Group, which owns about 10 venues in Victoria, before starting the Black Rhino Group.

His latest venture is the two-storey Portside Tavern 220km north of Adelaide, which has a bistro, 32-machine gaming lounge, nightclub and craft gin bar and sits on a 1216 sq m block.

Tomsic said he was enticed by the development occurring in Port Pirie, including the more than $20 million Memorial Oval Precinct redevelopment.

Former Portside Tavern owner Brad Perks said in a statement while the family-business had been “incredible” for the past decade it had been run under management for the past two years.

“We saw the time as right to hand the reins to new operators with fresh eyes,” he said.

“We see Black Rhino Group as the perfect party to take the property to it’s next level in a location that’s growing by the day.”

South Australian Hotel Association general manager Ian Horne said Black Rhino Group was among a range of interstate investors looking to purchase hotels in South Australia in recent weeks, which was a boon for the industry.

Labelling the fresh blood a “very positive” sign for the state’s economy and sector as a whole, he said: “I think everyone’s a winner: the state’s a winner, the government through taxation is a winner.”

“People don’t sell unless they want to sell and I think it’s an opportunity for a change-over. People are coming with new money, new ideas and new enthusiasm, and those selling are getting out, hopefully, a reasonable return,” Horne said.

Of the approximately 650 pubs in South Australia, the ALH Group controls about 32 while the other major players own up to about 10 each.

Horne said interest in the state’s hotel sector was the best it had been in about 15 years and as more interstate investors moved into South Australia current market operators were being driven to consider their own portfolios.

“There’s a lot of consolidation going on,” he said.

“There is a really genuine sense that our economy is recovering and you can build and grow your business over and above what we’ve seen in the past decade.

“We haven’t seen this level of interest in hotels approaching a decade and a half. We really reached our peak in mid-2007-2008 and the harsh reality is there’s been a slow decline in interest in hotels, to a point where pre-COVID there were lots of hotels and no one was particularly interested in buying them and particularly in regional areas.

“We’ve seen in recent sales particular interest in regions and that’s confidence in the South Australian economy and particularly confidence or belief that there’s growth in hotels in South Australia and the pricing structure in this state is very, very competitive compared to the eastern states.

“I think if we can maintain this level of confidence we’re going to see, again, a great increase in renovations – that’s a positive for the building industry.”

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