“I don’t believe in crypto, but a well-run pub will still be here in 50 years time,” he said.
“People say pubs are part of our DNA and I agree with that. They’re where we go to celebrate or commiserate,” he said.
Regarding the decision to purchase the Lord Roberts, Mr. MacFarlane said he drove past it every day on his way into work and then stumbled upon its listing online.
“It’s a community pub in a great pocket in the city, one that is not a lot different from when I left,” he said.
The deal, brokered by Savills Hotels’ Nick Butler, Selin Ince and Nick Lower, follows a number of prominent inner Sydney watering holes changing hands this year, including former Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon selling the Nag’s Head Hotel in Glebe in the inner west for $12 million to hotelier Marcello Colosimo.
A little further out, Rich Lister Sam Arnout’s Iris Capital purchased the Strathfield Hotel for about $80 millionwhile in April former Sydney lord mayor Nelson Meers set a national pub record, when he purchased the Crossroads Hotel in Casula for $160 million.
Although the acquisition of the Lord Roberts is his first in the booming pub sector, Mr. MacFarlane has some hands-on experience having managed a couple of bars in Sydney in the early 2000s before entering the financial services industry.
Its sale to Mr MacFarlane and his fellow investors marks the first time Lord Roberts has sold as a stapled freehold going concern – the property and the business – in almost a century.
The Cameron family took on the lease in 1975 and later in about 2017 Ms Cameron acquired the freehold property as part of the will instructions of the previous owner, John Francis Jones, who died in 2006.
Originally built as the Shannon Hotel, it was renamed the Lord Roberts Hotel in 1902 in honor of the famous British general Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts.
Located next door to Sydney cafe institution Bill & Toni’s, the Lord Roberts includes a large bar area, sports lounge with TAB and 17 gaming machines.
The second floor is home to a formal restaurant and bar as well as an alfresco terrace. Pre-COVID, the business generated annual earnings before tax of $1.45 million.
Mr MacFarlane said he planned to make only minor changes internally to the heritage listed venue.
He said he planned to hold on to the asset and pass it down to the next generation of his family.