The Keystone Group Confirms Lockout Laws Partly To Blame For Sale Of 17 Venues

Since going into receivership, The Keystone Group — owners of Sydney venues like Bungalow 8, Cargo Bar and The Rook — has confirmed that lockout laws are partly to blame for the company having to sell off more than a dozen of its venues.

Insolvency management group Ferrier Hodgson announced yesterday that The Keystone Group is now in receivership, and provided a list of 17 venues which are set to be sold off.

Now, in a statement (Via The Shout), The Keystone Group’s Executive Director Richard Facioni and Managing Director John Duncan say company’s stability has been affected by a number of issues, including lockout laws.

“Two years ago The Keystone Hospitality Group undertook a major expansion program, including acquisitions, to become a significantly larger, national group,” the pair say.

“Keystone today is an operationally strong business with over 1,000 employees across the country, with a number of iconic venues and brands within its portfolio and a highly dedicated team.

“However, the debt raised to undertake its expansion, combined with changes to the local market, including lock out laws, have placed significant financial strain on the business.

“As a result, the senior lenders to Keystone took the decision today to appoint receivers to the group to pursue a sale process.”

The full extent to which Sydney’s controversial lockout laws affected The Keystone Group is unclear, but Mr Duncan told Business Insider in 2014 that they had impacted the company, leading it to shift away from bars in Sydney and towards a national restaurant business.

Keystone put Cargo Bar at Sydney’s King Street Wharf on the market in March this year, saying it was moving into more food-focused ventures. A buyer is yet to be found for the venue, however.

Mr Facioni and Mr Duncan say all of The Keystone Group’s venues will continue to operate as normal, with minimal disruption while receivers Ferrier Hodgson work through the process of preparing the establishments for sale.

Sydney’s lockout laws have previously been blamed for the closure of venues like Bar Century, Jimmy Liks and Barrio Chino, even if their owners didn’t explicitly blame the regulations themselves.

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