JLL poaches rival CBRE pubs team

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JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group is ramping up its business in preparation for the post-COVID-19 pandemic by wooing CBRE’s entire Sydney pubs brokerage team.

Ben McDonald, CBRE’s director (pubs) hotels Asia Pacific, and associate director Kate MacDonald, have joined the JLL Sydney team headed by national director John Musca, who said JLL is coming off a record 2019, handling 52% of total Sydney pub transactions.

“Whilst the past couple of months have seen transactions retract, there has still been a demand for our services as buyers and sellers look to us to get an understanding of how the market is faring behind the scenes.

“The addition of Ben and Kate is a sign of our commitment to clients seeking a more professional service. Both bring diverse skills with Ben spending many successful years at CBRE and working his way up the ranks,” Musca said.

“Kate on the other hand spent nearly a decade at the coal face of pubs as a licensee, and the general manager of Northern Suburbs Rugby Football Club, before consulting in financial management for hotels for international accounting firm PKF, before commencing brokerage with Knight Frank and then CBRE,” he added.

McDonald will concentrate on the Sydney metropolitan market and other parts of coastal, rural and regional NSW.

MacDonald said she was looking forward to the industry getting back into full swing.

“I think there will be some pent-up demand with virtually no sales for several months and we will need to be ready,” she added.

Musca said he believes the market will reset and normalise towards the end of 2021 leading into 2022.

“Hotel investments remain a rapidly consolidating and tightly held asset class of choice,” he said. “From a trade perspective, experience suggests the hotel businesses with a limited risk profile that are particularly gaming and wagering centric, are likely to bounce back the fastest in most locations, be that in the metropolitan areas of the capital cities or larger regional centres.”

Meanwhile CBRE has appointed Michael Simpson to lead the hotels – capital markets team in Australia and New Zealand, and Tom Gibson as a director.

Simpson was previously managing director of Savills Hotels. Gibson has re-joined CBRE after 6.5 years in JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group.

Simpson said the hotel and tourism sector was facing considerable uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he noted that the industry had been quick to rebound from past local, regional and global geopolitical and economic events such as SARS and the Global Financial Crisis.

“Michael and Tom are extremely well regarded by our clients and bring skill sets that are highly complementary to that of our existing team. These appointments will reinforce our ability to provide a market leading service offering to our clients in the accommodation sector, where we envisage considerable future opportunities,” CBRE’s Pacific head of capital markets Mark Coster said.

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