Bubbly, dollars flow for Sydney nightlife king

The doldrums of 2020 seem have been shrugged off as the bubbly and dollars flow for one Sydney nightlife king.

Some pubs and restaurants are still dealing with the battle scars wrought by Covid, but for Sydney night life king Justin Hemmes, things are looking pretty dandy.

After a rough year of restrictions, the billionaire last week posted videos on his social media declaring nightlife in the glittering harbour “is back”.

Wild videos showed Sydney revellers lined up around the corner waiting to bust into his Ivy nightclub, ready to shake off the year’s blues.

But bubbly isn’t the only thing flowing.

The hotel baron’s Merivale business empire notched up tidy profit, which is a far cry from the Covid ravaged doldrums of 2020, according to financial statements released on Friday.

His Hemmes Trading outfit, which includes a portfolio of property investments and hospitality venues, recorded $17.29m in profit for the year ending June 30, soaring from $280,598 in the previous year.

It’s been a good few months for Hemmes, who’s built a small empire of Sydney venues, including two new inner-west acquisitions this year.

His offerings include The Ivy, Coogee Pavilion, The Establishment and The Royal and he just landed the deal to run food and drinks ventures both at the SCG and Sydney Football Stadium when it opens next year.

Merivale’s six-year contract with the venue is claimed to bring 1000 hospitality job across both venues.

“This is a major milestone in our company’s history, and builds on our commitment to the city of Sydney, its culture, economy and job creation,” Hemmes said.

Hemmes Trading also entered into agreements to acquire Victoria’s historic Lorne Hotel for about $38 million and Tomasetti House in Melbourne’s Flinders Lane, for about $42 million.

Merivale has been owned and run by the Hemmes family for more than 60 years, originally beginning as an iconic fashion house started by John and Merivale Hemmes.

Merivale’s fashionable beginnings were soon followed by a venture into hospitality, opening a Thai tea café inside their Sydney CBD fashion building in 1970.

It was here Merivale’s hospitality roots took hold and now the empire, led by Justin Hemmes as CEO, has grown to include more than 70 brands and venues.

The pandemic has reinforced the need for human connection, according to Mr Hemmes, who hopes to capitalise on that craving with his expanding portfolio.

“Covid has made people realise how important social connectivity is and appreciate what it feels like to dance and celebrate in a crowd. There’s a real positivity towards other people, which is what you need in a nightlife environment”, Hemmes said in an article posted on the Merivale website earlier this year.

“We’re so invested in Sydney as a city and take our responsibility in driving its future seriously. We’re giving our team the tools, space and permission to go big, and create experiences that can fulfil the passion and exceed the expectations of the city.

“We need to keep this excitement alive”.

Originally published as Bubbly, dollars flow for Sydney nightlife king post Covid

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