07/03/2012 - 10:35

Refurb work continues at ‘new’ WA Club

07/03/2012 - 10:35

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Refurb work continues at ‘new’ WA Club

THE Western Australian Club is set to move to new premises after 17 years at its current home on St Georges Terrace, with cost savings and the opportunity for an image makeover the main motivators for relocation.

Established in 1893, the club is in fundraising mode for the move to its new premises at 57 Murray Street, near the corner of Pier Street, and hopes to rally financial support from members and non-members to refurbish the new building.

The club’s lease for 101 St Georges Terrace will expire in June and, while the plan had been to move into new premises at that time, delays in the refurbishment will mean the club is more likely to continue to lease its existing space on a monthly basis and move into Murray Street closer to November.

WA Club general manager Judith Darlington and club president Patrick Canion told WA Business News the move would put the club in a better financial position and allow for membership growth.

“It reduces our fixed costs, it doubles our floor space and it will allow us, in terms of our member services, to do a lot of things we can’t do here – like weekend training, banquets and big functions,” Mr Canion said.

“From a business perspective it really allows us to put the club on a secure financial footing for at least another 21 years, which is the term of our lease with the national trust (which holds the Murray street building).”

The WA Club purchased prime commercial real estate on the city’s arterial business strip in 1995 but financial pressures meant it sold the premises in 2006.

The club used some of the cash from the sale to refurbish its two floors at 101 St Georges Terrace. Unfortunately, the club’s reopening coincided with the GFC, leading to a temporary decline in membership.

The new premises have increased car park capacity, another incentive for the move.

“Parking is a real issue, we have a lot of members who are on the terrace but we have even more who are working in Subiaco, West Perth, South Perth, so it will be easier access if you are driving,” Mr Canion said.

“For every member who says it is a little bit further to walk, we get another member who lives in East Perth and says it’s fantastic.”

Ms Darlington, who took on the role of general manager 18 months ago, said one of her main strategies had been to build a solid business foundation through hosting banquets for members.

The increased dining space at the new premises and greater suitability for opening on weekends would enable this to continue to underpin the business’ expansion.

“It is about offering more to members,” Ms Darlington said.

“In that location, I can see people coming in on Saturday or Sunday for a coffee or afternoon tea, something along those lines. I think it will change the ball game quite substantially.”

Mr Canion said at times it had been difficult for the WA Club to remain relevant, but the move was an opportunity to revive the club’s image.

“We aren’t going there to stay the same, we’re going there because it will allow us to grow our membership base, to have a more prominent role and voice in society,” Mr Canion said.

“Going back a couple of years ago, we talked about whether there is a place for the WA Club in today’s society, maybe it was time to shut the doors because people didn’t want it anymore.

“But the committee looked at our value propositions and said, you know what, people really value another place where they can meet their peers and entertain their clients that is not the office.”

The club presently has 1,300 members aged from 19 to 90, and 20 per cent are female.

 

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