Hemmes hotelier family return to Rich List

Hemmes hotelier family return to Rich List
Hemmes hotelier family return to Rich List

Prominent Sydney hotelier Justin Hemmes has been included in this year's Rich List.

Hemmes and his family have amassed a $951 million fortune via the ownership of 70 pubs, hotels, restaurants and venues in and around Sydney, including The Ivy on George Street in the heart of the CBD. No reason for their recent absence from the list was readily offered.

He joins the biggest group of Rich Listers, property magnates, who account for 51 of the 200 names. The family retains property dating back to 1972 when it bought the Angel Hotel for $500,000 on Pitt Street, Sydney.

Hemmes just misses being among the record 76 billionaires on the Financial Review Rich List.

They include billionaire Meriton's Harry Triguboff.

Most of the property names on the list are in the booming residential sector.

The 45-year-old Hemmes is among 12 new names in the 2018 edition which will be published tomorrow.

Hemmes' late father John and mother Merivale jointly appeared on the BRW Rich List in 1984 with a net wealth of $12 million, the first edition of the list in its current form.

Thirty-five years ago, BRW Magazine compiled the first annual list of the 200 richest people in Australia, a year after the first BRW 100 was printed in 1983.

Last year, the list became the Financial Review Rich List. There are 15 names on this year's list that where in the 1984 edition.

John and Merivale Hemmes' 1984 Rich List entry attributes their wealth to their John and Merivale clothing chain that was started after John moved to Australia in 1952. He then met, and married, Merivale, a milliner.

They set up a clothing chain, one of Australia's leading fashion chains in the 1960s and 1970s, the cash flow from which they bought property holdings.

Apparently John and Merivale Hemmes had once been evicted from a rented property in central Sydney and swore they would never pay rent again.

The Hemmes family properties include the Establishment Hotel on George Street, which cost $9 million to buy in 1998 and the CBD Hotel on York Street, which John Hemmes bought in 1993 for $3.1 million. 

Those two properties are worth at least 50 times more, the Rich List suggests, and along with The Ivy, where a 55-storey-hotel is now planned, form the foundation of Justin Hemmes and his family's wealth.

In recent years the empire has expanded to include the Coogee Pavilion, Enmore's Queen Victoria Hotel and The Newport.

Sydney's beachfront Collaroy Hotel was bought by the Merivale group in an off-market sale, with market chatter putting the deal at around $21 million.

The Centennial Hotel in Sydney's eastern suburbs was a recent purchase.

Hemmes also recently spent nearly $9 million on a commercial kitchen to service his growing portfolio.

He has also spent millions on personal properties including on the NSW south coast town.

His home is the heritage harbourside Vaucluse manor house, The Hermitage.

The Hermitage, one of the earliest mansions in Sydney's east, is of the Victorian Rustic Gothic style, built in an era when the curtains were drawn. 

It was bought in 1975 paying $500,000 in a 1970s credit squeeze fire sale when it was sold by Dick Baker following the 1974 collapse of his company Mainline.

It was in 2011 when Justin Hemmes, the chief executive officer of the Merivale hospitality group, moved back into his family home.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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