Doctors told Francesca Jones when she was eight that she would never be able to play professional tennis.
Francesca Jones has three fingers and a thumb on each hand and seven toes
Doctors told her she would not be able to play professional tennis due to her disability
Jones qualified for the main draw of the Australian Open for the first time
The now-20-year-old Brit was born with the rare genetic condition, ectrodactyly ectodermal dysplasia syndrome, leaving her with three fingers and a thumb on each hand and a total of seven toes.
Jones has had to endure multiple surgeries and, due to her dominant right foot only having three toes, has struggled with balance throughout her career.
“The doctors told me I wouldn’t be able to play tennis due to whatever disadvantages they thought I had,” Jones told the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
“That was kinda my decision … because you’ve said that, I’m now going to go and prove you wrong.”
Prove them wrong she did.
Aged 10, Jones was accepted to the Sánchez-Casal academy in Barcelona, developing her game on the clay courts that nurtured the early career of her fellow countrywoman and 2016 Australian Open semi-finalist Johanna Konta, and former world number one Andy Murray.
On Wednesday, Jones beat the odds to qualify for the main draw of a grand slam tennis tournament for the first time.
Jones needed just over an hour to dispatch Lu Jai-Jing of China, 6-0, 6-1 in Dubai — her third win of the week — to secure her spot on Friday’s flight to Melbourne.
“I’m just playing the game with a different set of cards,” Jones told the BBC prior to the qualification tournament.
Those cards amount to a lighter racquet with a smaller grip.
Everything else is Jones’ own dogged determination.
“My mental strength is one of my biggest strengths, if not my biggest strength,” Jones said.
“I do have that edge against my opponents purely because of the experiences that I’ve gone through.
“I use it [the condition] as a positive and advantage in many ways. I’m not playing out of revenge.
“I’m playing to have a positive impact on people who read my story, and I hope people can take the positives from it and build on it.”
Ranked 241 in the world, Jones is now guaranteed a $100,000 pay day, which will double her career earnings.
The Australian Open gets underway in Melbourne on February 8.
Well, I’m not really sure what to make of all that.
Clearly I wasn’t expecting it to be an instant classic, and although there was definitely intrigue and interest in seeing Mike Tyson back in a boxing ring, the contest itself was so clearly a pale imitation of anything they were capable of in their prime, you have to question the point.
Having said that, Tyson clearly enjoyed himself. He looked enthused, happy, pleased to be back in the ring and has got himself in tremendous shape, given his age and the punishment that his body had taken over the past couple of decades (and more).
Yes, both Tyson and Jones were clearly competitive against each other, but that was pretty much it.
So, from a nostalgic point of view, it was OK, but I wouldn’t want to watch that again.
As for the rest of the event, the first two fights on the undercard were quite interesting and competitive from a sporting perspective, but from the point that Jake Paul entered the ring, it should have been clear that the serious stuff was over for the day.
Thanks for joining me this afternoon for some boxing fun, we’ll be back with another blog for the the next big domestic fight between Tim Tszyu and Bowyn Morgan on December 16, but for now, good afternoon.
This Sunday marks the return to the ring of Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr.
Two of boxing’s biggest names meeting in the ring is a rare enough spectacle to ensure that this Sunday’s pay-per-view bout is worth getting excited about — until you realise that the two men are both in their 50s and the rules have been written so that this “fight” is only being sanctioned as a sparring contest.
Nevertheless, Tyson, 54, and Jones, 51, will lace up the gloves one more time for an exhibition event in Los Angeles that has got the boxing world talking. Or at least muttering under its breath.
Here’s all you need to know about the event that’s been derided as a circus freakshow by some and lauded as an unmissable nostalgic return of two boxing greats by others.
Who is Mike Tyson?
Once known as the “baddest man on the planet”, Tyson is one of the most feared boxers of all time.
The youngest heavyweight world champion, a title he first won aged just 20 years, four months and 22 days, Iron Mike was the undisputed champion from 1987 to 1990 and one of the most recognisable athletes in the world.
One of the most devastating punchers in boxing history, 12 of Tyson’s first 16 professional fights were stopped inside the first round — all before he even turned 20.
Tyson went on to win by knockout in 44 of his 50 professional wins to end with a record of 50 wins, six defeats and two no contests.
However, while Tyson was a ferocious force in the ring, that professional violence was born from a tumultuous and controversial personal life that eventually resulted in his downfall.
After serving time for rape between 1991 and 1994, Tyson was a sad reflection of his former self.
Despite fighting for a world title again in 2002, his out-of-the-ring issues overwhelmed him, leaving the former champion bankrupt and battling with drug and alcohol addiction.
Who is Roy Jones Junior?
Jones Jr is a four-weight world champion and one of the best pound-for-pound boxers of all time.
He was the first man in more than a century to win a world title at heavyweight after winning his first crown at middleweight.
But after a near-faultless first 50 professional fights — Jones had a record of 49-1, the one defeat being a disqualification against Montell Griffin — he started to lose his edge and suffered the bulk of his nine professional defeats, five of which came by knockout.
Australian fans might remember him as the man who got beaten in the first round by Aussie Danny Green for the IBO Cruiserweight title in Sydney in 2009 — Jones’s only first round defeat by TKO in his career.
Jones only retired in 2017 after a 75-fight, 29-year career that ended with a victory over Scott Sigmon.
Although Jones did win a heavyweight world title, he is not really a heavyweight fighter — he’s far more suited to middleweight through to light-heavyweight.
Is this a real fight?
The California State Athletic Commission has laid down some pretty strict rules around the fight as part of their conditions for sanctioning it.
It will be fought over eight, two-minute rounds.
There will be no headgear, but each will wear 12-ounce gloves, as opposed to the 10-ounce gloves typically worn by professionals.
The fight will be stopped immediately if there’s a cut, and boxers will be stopped from going for the knockout … which definitely sounds like it will be easier said than done.
Both boxers said they’d be taking it seriously and fighting for the win.
The balance of maintaining a spectacle worth the pay-per-view price ($59.95 in Australia) while keeping both aged fighters safe will be a near-impossible task.
It either sets us up for a controversial intervention from referee Ray Corona just when both fighters hit their stride; a sad, limp imitation of a bout; or an unseemly, damaging knockout of a middle-aged man being broadcast around the world.
None seem all that appealing.
The bout is not being officially covered by any world governing body, but the World Boxing Council will judge an unofficial winner with three remote judges and the “Frontline Championship” title belt — for reasons only known to them.
Is this the first exhibition that Tyson has fought?
Nope. He met head-guard-wearing Corey Sanders in 2006 as part of Mike Tyson’s World Tour, in what can only be described as a panda-puff glorified sparring session.
The less said about that sorry affair, the better, but it wasn’t great.
What’s the point?
This is not clear — although the rumoured $10 million each will make from the fight won’t hurt either fighters’ respective bank balances.
Tyson has got himself into pretty decent shape for this fight, which he hopes will be the start of a series of events call the Legends Only League, giving a platform to former star athletes.
Neither of these guys are going to make a full professional comeback to the ring — even George Foreman was “only” 45 when he became the oldest heavyweight world champion in 1994.
And as good as Tyson was, can you see a 54-year-old dominating someone like Tyson Fury, who not only has 22 years on Iron Mike, but a 28cm height and 36cm reach advantage? Me neither.
Who will win?
While it’d be unwise to judge everything through the carefully selected Instagram posts from Tyson’s social media team, Iron Mike has looked quite impressive, making him a strong favourite.
More than that, he looks very fit and, as anyone who’s ever watched a Tyson fight in their lives before knows, Tyson’s sheer ferocity in the opening exchanges can often prove too hard for the best of heavyweights to handle.
Whether he will even be allowed to go that hard early in this exhibition under its restrictive rules remains to be seen.
But perhaps from Tyson’s viewpoint, just getting back into fighting shape — losing as much as 60 kilograms — is the most important thing as he rediscovers the enthusiasm for the sport that made him a household name.
The best thing to do is probably lower your expectations that either fighter will recapture their former glories and treat us to an amazing spectacle, and tune in just to witness two of boxing’s best exhibit their skills — while hoping both stay safe.
What’s on the Tyson-Jones undercard?
Incredibly (or not, depending on your point of view) the Tyson-Jones fight isn’t even the oddest spectacle we’ll be “treated” to on fight night.
The cricket world has reacted with shock and sadness after the death of Dean Jones, who died this week aged 59.
Legends of the game and fans have shared heartfelt tributes to the test batsman, dubbed a “true legend of Australian sport.”
We asked our Facebook Messenger subscribers for their most treasured memories of Dean Jones throughout his stellar decade-long playing career and beyond.
This is what they said.
“Deano the unconventional. He changed the one-day game — he seemed the first to run hard and put pressure on fielders. But who could forget the day he asked Curtly Ambrose to remove his white sweatbands… What was he thinking, upsetting the biggest and fastest West Indian bowler… All it did was fire up Curtly to take five wickets, but we remember the drama it brought the game even years later. Thanks for the memories.” – Reece W
“At the Gabba when there was a weather delay, groundsmen rushed on to put the covers on. Started hailing. DJ ran out onto the field with helmets to protect the guys on the field. Thoughtful and amusing.”
– Bob T
“I grew up watching him with my mum and dad and two brothers! I loved him big time, with pictures on my bedroom door of him, Lillee, Marsh, Alderman, Yardley… He will be dearly missed by many. A true champion of the game!”
– Suzanne T
“I remember the 200 against the West Indies. I was a kid and Dad had organised a BBQ with friends to watch the test. Seeing that tenacity really had an effect on me. I went on to idolize him in the game of cricket… Charging down the pitch and making cricket fun. My Kookaburra bat had his signature. Dad and I went to many one dayers to watch him live. I have such fond memories.” – Rob J
“I wasn’t old enough to have seen him play but I was raised on the story of his innings in Chennai where he had to be taken to the hospital after one of the best knocks of his career. To me he epitomised giving your all. Some people think they are, and then there’s people like Dean Jones. Couple that with his easy going manner and humour on commentary, where my own first hand memories are from, and he is a wonderful example of what Australian cricket should be.”
– Jordan A
“To get a text with the news of Dean’s death…. well, beyond the shock, it just brought a flood of memories and emotions. Oakleys. Hitting Srinath for six at the Gabba in the 1992 World Cup. Wide-legged stance. Sweatbands. Being given out by Ross Emerson in 1996 for Aus A v the Windies when he was trying to force his way back into the side for the 1996 World Cup. I could go on… but, frankly, he was the reason I fell in love with the game as a wide-eyed 7-year-old.
“The first time I ever ‘met’ him was at the SCG during that Aus A game in 95-96, a key game for him. He signed my bat, hat and shirt at the boundary’s edge — all while missing a drinks break so so he could sign as many kids’ bats as possible.
“But this picture was when I first ‘properly’ met him, when he came to HK to commentate on the first HK T20 Blitz in 2016 (you even can also see a very young Sandeep Lamichhane there in the background!).
“Even though I was CEO and surely supposed to put on a professional front… and was definitely not supposed to show just how excited I was…. I still worded up someone to please take photos of my talking to my hero for the first time.”
– Tim Cutler
“I’d watch any match, or a replay of a match if Dean Jones was playing. He genuinely always seemed like a good bloke. He was exciting to watch and good to look at. Because he was so encouraging to local cricket clubs, I think a scholarship should be named in his honour.“ – Elizabeth E
“I remembered Deano scoring 216 as a spectator at the Adelaide Oval against the almighty West Indies team in 1989, in a partnership with Merv who also scored 72. This was a time when South Australians weren’t too enamored with Victorians, but the applause Deano received when he brought up his 200 was the loudest I’ve ever heard. Revolutionized the way the game was played. Would have been a natural T20 player in the current era.”
– Tim J
“I loved him because he bucked the cricket conservative system and there was nothing they could do to stop him, because it was for safety and common sense. Take the sunglasses. It’s common now.”
– David V
“My memories of Deano were at Mt Waverley High School. He was a couple of grades higher and an inspiration even then, a role model. Deano was an accomplished sportsman not only in cricket but also Aussie Rules. He will be sadly missed but remembered fondly.”
– Leigh W
“He was all that any game wants and now cricket desperately needs, a character that made you smile whenever you said his name.”
When he skipped his way into big-time cricket like a brash featherweight, they called him ‘The Jones Boy’. By the time Dean Jones departed the international scene, he was history’s man. Australia’s batting wunderkind of the 1980s and ’90s had done nothing less than revolutionise limited overs cricket.
To a generation of cricket-loving Australian children, Jones was a hero. To Victorians, he was something closer to a sporting martyr. The Melburnian devotion to Jones went far beyond reason. His slights at the hands of national selectors were received like blows to the soul. Years after his retirement, loyalists in the MCG outer persisted with their banners: “Bring back Deano”.
Few can lay claim to changing the game so definitively in as many facets.
Foremost was his daredevil batting. In one-day internationals, Jones could be subtle and brutal in the space of a minute. He dictated terms, using the width of his crease and the full 360 degrees to set new standards. Australia’s unexpected World Cup win of 1987 came under the uncompromising direction of Bob Simpson and Allan Border, but it carried plenty of Jones’s hallmarks too.
An image endures of his frenetic, career-best 145 against England in 1990, when he spent the afternoon raining sixes on the old Gabba dog track.
Moments after hoicking poor Martin Bicknell for an absurd, one-handed six over fine leg, Jones threw every ounce of his weight into a lofted, straight drive towards the commentary box containing Richie Benaud and Geoffrey Boycott. Purring with delight, Benaud issued one of his classic lines: “Just reach out and catch it, Geoffrey.”
At home, it felt like the ball would crash through the screen. Jones was bombastic.
He played ‘like a man possessed’
Any consideration of Jones’s role in re-imagining the possibilities of the limited overs game should also include ground fielding and running between the wickets — afterthoughts to many of his peers. Jones approached both like a man possessed, stealing and saving runs as though Australia’s fortunes depended on it.
His confidence could be mistaken for arrogance, but even some of his outlandish innovations soon became accepted wisdom.
When he tried a reverse sweep during the 1987 World Cup, Simpson sent out a message: “If you play that shot again you’ll never play for Australia again.” Now it’s common practice.
Until Jones and his polarised sunglasses came along, fieldsmen had squinted into the sun for generations. He was ridiculed for wearing them. Soon enough everybody did. He was a one-man production line of marginal gains.
The highlight videos filling news bulletins today will focus on Jones’s audacious strokeplay and his balletic advances towards hapless bowlers. They will miss subtler delights: Jones dashing into the outfield and turning three into two, his arm like a missile launcher aimed an inch above the bails; when the tables were turned, his aggressive running could scramble the minds and limbs of outfielders, causing them to fumble at the crucial moment.
In cricket and in life he was impetuous, cocky, sometimes obstreperous. He was a maker of enemies and scenes, mostly due to overflows of the same passion that fuelled his brilliance. He nursed a righteous sense of injustice for opportunities he felt he was denied as a player and coach, but he loved the game, and always came back for more.
The insatiable desire to win came from a similar place to his need to prove doubters wrong.
Just as Jones delighted in goading opponents (who could forget his self-endangering demand that Curtly Ambrose remove his white wristbands?), he could be needled too.
The tale of his golfing skirmish with Sir Donald Bradman might be the best. Bradman pointed to trees obscuring the green on a dog-leg par four, telling Jones he hit over them in his youth. Of course, Jones tried and failed, prompting Bradman’s observation they’d only been knee-height all those decades earlier.
The MCG would erupt for him like it would for no other
Jones was of a generation of superstars instantly identifiable by their first names: Viv, Javed, Merv, Imran. Thanks to the inefficiencies of Australian informality, Jones was Deano — to teammates and his adoring public. Only Richards out-swaggered Jones on the way to the crease. Like Viv, Jones chewed gum like it was a secondary competition within the game.
To stand on the southern side of the MCG when Jones strutted to the crease during a day-night game was to understand Hemingway’s endless platitudes for bullfighters.
The roar of the Melbourne crowd was unlike anything enjoyed by others. A lesser sporting ego would have been carried to the wicket by the noise. Jones felt like it was nothing more than his due. If he got going with that crowd behind him, no bowler was safe. Death in the afternoon? Murder under lights.
It is often said his Test career was squandered. Depending on who is talking, either Jones or the Australian selectors were at fault, but 52 Tests, 3,631 runs, 11 centuries and an average of 46.55 do not speak of an obvious hard luck story. He arrived on the Test scene to replace batting icons, and as sad as it was, all-time greats replaced him too.
Not many remember that Jones was only 25 when his long-form career reached that apotheosis; it was his first Test century.
Fewer still recall that two days later, Jones made 48 in a washed-out one-day international. You could attribute that to his bloody-mindedness and ego, but it was equally the result of his endless quest for perfection.
Shortly before departing for that tour, Jones flew to Sydney so he could lunch with Ian Chappell and pose a simple question to the previous generation’s swashbuckler: ‘How do I get better?’
Only in recent years did Jones share the physical toll that Madras took on him; on hot days, he’d shake like a leaf. He said if you could bottle that feeling, it would be banned under the Geneva convention.
Jones transcended cricketing tradition
More than most sports, cricket has a habit of reducing careers and lives to a series of numbers and feats. To some extent, Dean Jones transcended such analyses.
Deeper was his cultural resonance among the last of Australia’s pre-internet sports stars. A generation of kids adopted Jones’s Kookaburra Bubble bat as their own, slathered their bottom lips in zinc, took guard with Jones’s exaggerated spread of the legs, then charged down the wicket with abandon. Never taking a backward step, Jones made them believe the ball was always there to be hit.
His death comes as an almighty jolt, the premature end of an innings that brought un-cynical joy. It makes you think of the way he used to walk back to the pavilion; only Jones could do it with such theatre.
To this day, you still see park-grade batsmen spit out their gum and slap it like a forehand with the face of their bats. It is mimicry of Dean Jones, decades on from his last professional game. They didn’t just love him, they wanted to be him.
Standing next to the empty chair of colleague Dean Jones, retired Australian fast bowler Brett Lee has paid tribute on live television to the “absolute legend”, whose life he had reportedly tried to save hours earlier.
After Jones collapsed in their Mumbai hotel, Lee reportedly tried to revive his colleague before he was taken to hospital.
Lee and former New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris worked with Jones on the Select Dugout pre-game show and both fronted the cameras just hours after his death.
‘I watched him jog up and down the hallway’
Styris fought his emotions as he spoke of how he had seen Jones that morning, jogging up and down the corridor as he looked to exercise in the “bubble” environment.
“In many ways the Dugout was Deano,” Styris said.
“Who would have thought this morning, when we got up, had breakfast with Deano, I watched him jog up and down the hallway, that was his way of keeping fit.
“Who would have thought merely a couple of hours later he had this heart attack.
“Incredibly sad … we’ve had a lot of friendly banter …” Styris said before breaking off, grimacing and looking at the ceiling, unable to continue.
Lee then stepped in, saying Jones would have wanted the show to go on.
“What I would say about Deano is that he would have wanted us to be here tonight,” Lee said.
“Obviously firstly to his family and friends we send our condolences.
“It’s real tough day for everyone, not only for his close mates and his close mates at home but the whole cricketing world in general.
“What Deano would’ve wanted is for us to come out here in the dugout, get it done, have some fun for the game we all love.”
Jones’s chair on the set of Select Dugout was left empty, with his jacket draped over the back of the chair.
Players from both Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore teams wore black armbands in the match that took place after the show.
On Channel 9, Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings said Lee was “traumatised” by what happened and that Cricket Australia would support him.
“We’re trying to work out a way how to support his family. The cricket family will come together and we’ll mourn, we’ll cry, we’ll grieve for him and then celebrate his magnificent life,” Eddings said.
“[We also have to] look out for Brett Lee, how can we support Brett, who was obviously very traumatised by what happened.
“Really just getting the cricketing family together and support Dean’s family but also Brett.”
Australian batsman Dean Jones has died of a heart attack in India aged 59.
Jones died in India of cardiac arrest, he was in the country to commentate on the Indian Premier League
He was regarded as one of the finest batsmen of his generation, playing 52 Tests and 164 one-day internationals for Australia
Cricket Australia says its thoughts and best wishes are with his wife Jane and daughters Isabella and Phoebe
Indian TV network Star Sports announced Jones’s death in a statement.
Jones was overseas to commentate on the Indian Premier League, which started this week.
“It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing away of Mr Dean Mervyn Jones AM,” a statement from Star India said.
“He died of a sudden cardiac arrest. We express our deep condolences to his family and stand ready to support them in this difficult time.
“We are in touch with the Australian High Commission to make the necessary arrangements.
“Dean Jones was one of the great ambassadors of the game.”
Jones, regarded as one of the finest batsmen of his generation, played 52 Tests and 164 one-day internationals for Australia in an international career that spanned 10 years between 1984 and 1994.
He scored 3,631 runs in Tests at an average of 46.55 with 11 hundreds and 14 half-centuries and over 6,000 runs in ODIs with seven centuries and 46 fifties.
After his retirement, he worked as a coach and commentator and was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame in 2019.
Cricket Australia chair Earl Eddings said Jones would be sorely missed.
“Anyone who watched cricket in the 1980s and 1990s will fondly recall his cavalier approach at the crease and the incredible energy and passion he brought to every game he played.
“Although many remember him for his brilliance in the 50-over game, arguably Jones’ finest moment in the national team came in scorching conditions in Chennai in 1986, where his selfless and courageous innings of 210 helped Australia to a famous tie against India.”
Mr Eddings said Jones remained a popular figure in Australian and Victorian cricket throughout his life and was a much-loved columnist and commentator in every corner of the cricketing world.
“Our thoughts and best wishes are with his wife Jane and daughters Isabella and Phoebe.”
Top former and current players have paid tribute to Jones on social media, including the Indian great Sachin Tendulkar, current Indian captain Virat Kohli and former Australian captain Michael Clarke.
Move over Victorian chief health officer Professor Brett Sutton, the leader fetishisation during COVID-19 has a new man of the moment.
Perth singer and comedian Chelsea Jones on Monday released “a country love song dedicated to Perth heart-throb Mark McGowan” – the Western Australian Premier.
In the official music video for the cheeky three-and-a-half minute song, Jones asks: “Do you wanna pick me up, go to the pub and then grab a kebab with me Mark McGowan?”
“I’m in love, I’d do anything for ya, and your hard, hard, hard … border.
“You’ve got the brains, you’ve got the rig, we’re sipping pints at The Swinging Pig. I think this man’s a keeper, he’s wearing the suit but still rocking the sneakers.
“He’s my knight in shining armour, whenever we’re together I’m not worried ‘bout Clive Palmer.”
You can watch the full video in the player above.
The tune centres around Jones’ wish for a date at Mr McGowan’s local pub – The Swinging Pig in Rockingham – along with a nod to the infamous moment he burst out laughing when asked about a man being fined $1000 in New South Wales for eating a kebab on a park bench amid lockdown.
Mr McGowan was greeted to a star reception at the pub in late June when the state’s COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed under phase four, allowing the removal of seated service requirements at licensed premises and the service of alcohol as part of unseated service arrangements.
In the music video, Jones carries a cardboard cut-out of the state leader from outside his electorate office in the southwest city of Rockingham to various locations including Nicko’s Place Shish Kebabs, the pub, the arcade and a bedroom.
It also features a make-out session on a pier and a guitar solo on the beach.
She told news.com.au the cut-out of the Premier cost $60.
“We printed Mark in three sections at Officeworks and then glued him together onto a piece of cardboard,” she said.
Jones wrote and produced the music and her partner Jarrod White filmed and directed the video which garnered a “good laugh” from the Rockingham locals during the couple’s two-night getaway.
Jones told news.com.au the song “pretty much wrote itself” as WA is “communally crushing on Mark McGowan”.
“I thought he would make the perfect subject for a country love song,” the 26-year-old Perth local said.
“He’s got all the ingredients of a heart-throb – the brains, the looks, the cheeky sense of humour!”
Jones has sent the song to the 53-year-old Premier via his staff but is yet to receive a response.
“I think if I made Mark McGowan laugh that would be more than enough for me,” she said.
“He’s a bit of a comedian himself so it would be the ultimate compliment.”
She told 6PR radio on Monday a few people were “a bit concerned” about his wife hearing her love song that is admittedly “a little bit raunchy”.
“But knowing Mark, I’m sure that his lady (Sarah McGowan) must have a good sense of humour. I’m sure she’ll find it funny,” she said.
As for what is next for the jokester, who has also acted on a number of Australian television shows including Neighbours in the 2000s, Jones said she is considering tackling “a bit of a video about Karen”.
“I want to do a song from her point of view, that’s like a lament. She is the biggest victim of 2020, I reckon that might be next,” she said.
The group’s two city stores are estimated to be worth a combined $1 billion, although market insiders say Australia’s entrenched bricks and mortar retailing downturn is likely to affect their end value.
Woolworths South Africa also owns the Country Road business.
Newmark is no stranger to retail property. It is the owner of the popular Jam Factory complex in South Yarra and multiple other shopping-focused assets through its individual unlisted property funds.
Newmark co-founder Chris Langford said David Jones’ Bourke Street store was “great real estate.”
“We’re looking at office and retail. It’s a great location and it’s a really nice space. It will be like a loft-style office,” said Mr Longford, who co-founded the fund manager with Simon T Morris.
Newmark’s most recent acquisitions include a new large-format retail centre anchored by Bunnings and Kmart under development in Warragul in regional Victoria that it purchased for $51 million and the Tooronga Village Shopping Centre in Melbourne’s east that it acquired for its investors from Stockland in mid-2019 for $62 million.
CBRE’s Simon Rooney negotiated the sale alongside David Jones’ transaction manager JACX Property.
Mr Rooney said 15 bids were received for the menswear store from a mix of domestic and offshore investors, high net worth individuals, developers and syndicate investors.
The deal comes amid news another Melbourne-based group, Vantage Property Investments, is in talks to scoop up the struggling St Collins Lane shopping mall in Collins Street for less than $120 million.
If a deal is finalised at that level, it will be at a significant discount to the property’s previous price when it was purchased by JP Morgan Asset Management in 2016 for $247 million on a 5 per cent yield.
Several industry sources said Vantage was in talks to buy St Collins Lane on behalf of investment bank Credit Suisse Asset Management.
Vantage, run by directors Hamish de Crespigny and Matt Spring, did not respond to calls for comment. Credit Suisse declined to comment.
JP Morgan recently spent $35 million refurbishing St Collins Lane and changed its name from its outdated moniker, Australia on Collins.
But despite the upgrade, the revamped shopping centre at 260 Collins, between Elizabeth and Swanston streets, has struggled to find tenants and strike a chord with shoppers.
Long before the coronavirus pandemic caused havoc among the city’s retailers, the mall’s upper levels were riddled with vacant spaces, although the ground floor, which connects through to Little Collins Street, has generally been successful with retailers.
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Simon Johanson is a business journalist at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.
Carolyn Cummins is Commercial Property Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald.