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Brewers rush back into pubs

THE hotel industry is awash with talk that Australia’s big brewers are back in the hotel business, following recent activity in Perth and on the East Coast.

Buoying that speculation was Swan Brewery’s emergence with a role in two icon WA establishments at a cost of $8 million and expectations that Carlton & United Breweries was a frontrunner among those pitching for the Nedlands Park Hotel lease.

But at least one 30-year veteran of the hotel industry, Graeme Clarke, believes the new brewery initiatives in WA are small beer and it is unlikely the two producers will re-emerge the big players they were in past.

Mr Clarke, the freshly appointed team leader of Burgess Rawson’s newly created Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure division, joined Burgess Rawson together with former Joseph Charles Learmonth Duffy colleagues Mike Arthur and Mark Peters.

He said such talk had surfaced regularly since Swan dumped its hotel arm in the mid-1980s when it was running up to 42 WA hotels.

Mr Clarke believes publicans need not hold their breath waiting for a brewer to come and pay them a big price for their hotel.

“Swan was big in hotels but then they sold them all off. Now they are proposing to buy hotels back again and they probably would be buying back the same hotels they originally sold,” he said.

Jones Lang LaSalle senior manager of hospitality and tourism arm Transact, Phil Zoiti shared Mr Clarke’s assessment.

“I really don’t believe they would have an open cheque book and buy up everything in WA,” Mr Zoiti said.

“I think it’s without foundation, as far as I am aware, that they are actively looking to purchase anything. I think it is just market rumours and pretty much unsubstantiated.

“They’ve got a stronghold in WA anyway, so I don’t believe they have to go out and buy market share.

“It would be certainly very cautious and make strategic acquisitions if they did choose to enter the market place.”

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