Speaking to Australian Hotelier for its 2018 Leaders Forum issue, Justine Baker the recently appointed CEO of Solotel, has revealed the plans and the focus for the group in 2018.
Baker moved into the CEO role in February, a move triggered by the rapid growth that Solotel has recently experienced; part of that expansion has included opening new venues as well as acquisitions and those additions to the Solotel portfolio form the basis for the group’s focus in 2018, as well as the highlights of 2017.
“There have been so many highlights but probably the biggest [in 2017] were opening Little Big House and Barangaroo House, and the acquisition of the Marlborough and Clovelly,” Baker said. “We had a big and rewarding year: our venue teams continued to deliver a great experience in our existing venues while the project teams focused on creating two brand new venues. I am so incredibly proud of the entire Solotel team for what they accomplished last year.”
Speaking about the year ahead, she added: “This year’s focus is on fine tuning our two new venues and planning the renovation projects for our 2017 acquisitions. We are also planning an end-of-2018 opening for the Abercrombie in Chippendale, which will be an entertainment, youth-focused pub concept.
“I’m incredibly conscious with our recent growth that you need to ensure the whole group is moving together, that our existing venues are continually evolving, our revenues are maximised and our people are being developed and feel part of the growth. I think we have enough planned to keep us busy and excited for 2018.”
Having bought the Marlborough Hotel in the Sydney suburb of Newtown and the Clovelly Hotel, Baker also explained to the Leaders Forum the characteristics that Solotel looks for in a good pub.
“We look for venues that reflect the culture and diversity of the people and the area it lives in. A pub as authentic as its locals with scale and a strong food and beverage offering. Entertainment is another important factor which makes a pub a destination and a gaming offer too where it fits.”
As well as the developments in Sydney, Solotel also opened Little Big House in Brisbane, joining its existing venues in the city, RiverBar & Kitchen and Aria Brisbane, and Baker said the group believes in the city and will hope to grow in the future.
“Little Big House is in Southbank which is a new area for us to connect with,” she said. “Our other two businesses are located in the CBD, whereas Southbank has a broader mix of demographic with tourists, university students and destination drinkers.
“We have no immediate plans for a new venue in Brisbane but believe in the city and hope to grow in the following years. We are focused on making sure our existing venues are delivering a great customer experience and maximising their potential.”
For more from Baker including details of the Barangaroo House project in Sydney take a look at the 2018 Leaders Forum issue of Australian Hotelier.
Baker is also taking part in a panel discussion at the 2018 Pub Leaders Summit, which takes place at Randwick Racecourse on Monday, 19 March. To attend Australia’s only national conference for pub operators, head to the Pub Leaders Summit website to buy your ticket.