Losses hit Lincoln hotel as buyer looks to swoop

The Famous Grouse has traded at a loss for the past two years because of increasing costs. Photo:...
The Famous Grouse has traded at a loss for the past two years because of increasing costs. Photo: Supplied
The future of the Lincoln Club is up in the air after members were told the Famous Grouse Hotel is likely to be sold.

The club operates the hotel through its company Famous Grouse 2009 Ltd – and is known as ‘the club in the pub’.

It has about 500 members, which are drawn from across the Selwyn district.

The hotel has traded at a loss for the past two years because of increasing costs and the downturn in hospitality businesses due to the pandemic, club president Brian Humm told members in an email.

Also hitting the business was a legal bill from the fight to keep its liquor licence after it was opposed by the police and other authorities.

“This last year, the figures include a substantial legal bill incurred defending the police opposition to our liquor licence renewal,” Humm said.

“All this has led to the simple reality that it is becoming more and more difficult to post a profit from these businesses.” 

The Grouse kept its licence with conditions over the duration of its licence renewal.

Humm told members its lease on the Famous Grouse site in Gerald St did not expire till 2029, but it is unlikely to be renewed after that.

“Earlier this year we were advised by email that the landlord would not consider renewing the lease for us in 2029 because we had ‘brought the hotel into disrepute’ because of the opposition by police to our licensing renewal application.”

Humm said a “foe” of the club had fed the landlord misinformation.

“Clearly some 'foe’ of the club has been feeding him malicious information which is most unfortunate.”

When asked by Selwyn Times what it means for the future of the club, Humm said: “That’s for the members to decide at the special general meeting.

“I’m in no position to talk about anything like that at all until the members decide what happens.

“The members decide not one person. It’s a club you know.”

Humm said it will be up to the members to decide the future and, if the club rejects or accepts the offer, to sell the hotel.

A special general meeting will be held on April 28.

In the email to members, Humm said: “In order to protect the assets of the club that have been created during the last 15 years of trading, we should divest of the Hotel (Club in a Pub) business."

An issue for the club was finding committee members.

“Another matter of concern is the lack of people willing to offer their services for committee and other voluntary roles within the club. 

“This, of course, is not unique to our club but does make the future of business enterprises like ours rather cloudy.”