JLL signals its post COVID-19 intent

03 June, 2020 by Andy Young

The JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group has signalled its intent for the post COVID-19 era, by attracting the Sydney pubs brokerage team from rival CBRE.

Ben McDonald, CBRE’s Director (Pubs) Hotels Asia Pacific, and Associate Director Kate MacDonald will join the JLL Sydney team headed by National Director John Musca.

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Musca welcomed the pair to the team, saying everyone was looking forward to the market picking up again.

“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,” Musca said.

“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.

“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: “Ben and Kate will provide wide-ranging advice to industry stakeholders, from sensitivity analyses to transaction structuring and capital deployment strategies. Their expertise and relationships will form an integral part of the JLL NSW offering.”

McDonald said one of his main reasons for moving to JLL is to work with Musca.

“I see huge upside in joining forces with John, continuing to add value to our client base and enhance the enviable track record he and the JLL team has established,” he said.

“I truly believe that JLL has been the class leading in the pub brokerage space for well over a decade.”

MacDonald added that 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.

“I think my skills are fairly unique. From changing a keg at midnight during busy trade, to Business Development Manager at PKF where I implemented best practice financial procedures in some of the best pubs in NSW. This breadth of experience has provided me with valuable insight as a pub broker.”

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.

“Hotels in coastal locations within a three-hour drive of the capitals are also likely to benefit from international travel restrictions.  The market will polarise between tightening demand for triple A assets and hotel businesses with uncertain or more fickle patronage exposure effecting trading trajectories.”

The pair join JLL’s team of 30 Australia-wide, and McDonald will concentrate on the Sydney metropolitan market and MacDonald other parts of coastal, rural and regional NSW.