Brad Harris and James Sinclair betting on sports bars

Published 03 February 2014 09:41, Updated 04 February 2014 08:51

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Brad Harris and James Sinclair betting on sports bars

James Sinclair and Brad Harris, owners of the Sporting Globe sports bars. Photo: Jesse Marlow

Two young entrepreneurs with a retailing pedigree are behind a fledgling but fast-growing chain of sports bars modelled on the popular concept in the United States.

Brad Harris, 29, and James Sinclair, 28, are co-founders of The Sporting Globe bar and grill chain, which in March will open its fourth outlet in Victoria. Harris is the son of BRWRich List member Geoff Harris, a Flight Centre co-founder and initial investor in Boost Juice, while Sinclair’s father Geoff was co-founder of equestrian retail chain Horseland and is now chief executive of franchisor San Churro.

After nine months’ research of sports bars on the east coast of the US in 2009, Harris and Sinclair pooled their savings and opened their first outlet in Geelong in early 2010, taking over the existing freehold of a pub in the city’s centre. The move came after several months of trying to find sites in Melbourne, and only came about when the pair happened to be driving past the Geelong pub and asked the landlord for a tour of the site.

“We had some luck in that the previous operator spent about $2.7 million fitting out the site before we bought it,” Sinclair says. “So we had everything there that was basically brand new, and just had to apply our style and systems to it.”

The venture was cash-flow positive and profitable within six months, and the pair subsequently opened another two outlets in Melbourne in the following two years, one in a shopping mall and another in a suburban retail strip. Their next outlet will be in inner-city Richmond. Establishment costs run between $800,000 to $1.5 million and the pair’s plans involve establishing a franchising operation for expansion of the brand interstate.

Business lessons from their fathers

The pair’s blueprint includes a roomful of large LED television screens showing different sports, a dedicated dining area aimed at families, a central bar and an area that includes subtly placed TAB betting terminals. Sinclair says the chain attracts its largest patronage for four events: the Melbourne Cup in November, the AFL grand final in September, New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl, which takes place on Monday morning.

Sinclair says the pair have applied what their learnt from their fathers. “Weekends when I was a teenager would be Dad going over the stock, so stock management is very important to us. How long to hold on to stock, the cost of sales and managing rosters. [Wages] are one of your biggest costs so you have to able to be nimble in managing roster costs.”

Harris adds: “Geoff is constantly going on about goal-setting. Not just for us, but for the staff as well. So every staff member has a set of goals. It’s about empowering and motivating them using those goals, which makes them more productive.”

Read the full story on AFR.com.

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