Star pumps £42m into pub refurbs

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Cash injection: the White Swan in Ockbrook, near Derby reopened in April after a joint investment of £120,000 from Star and the pub's licensees
Cash injection: the White Swan in Ockbrook, near Derby reopened in April after a joint investment of £120,000 from Star and the pub's licensees

Related tags: Star pubs & bars, Heineken, Pubco + head office, Tenanted + leased

Heineken pub arm Star Pubs & Bars has announced it will invest £42m into upgrading more than a quarter of its estate during 2022 with particular focus on pub gardens in suburban areas as well as those on high streets and near residential neighbourhoods.

The revamps, which will see 137 pubs receive refurbishments costing more than £125,000, reflect consumers increased desire for ‘premiumisation’ and outdoor socialising, trends which have been accelerated by the pandemic according to Star.

Pubco managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “People have stayed closer to home over the last two years due to the pandemic and have turned to their local for the kind of experience they’d previously have travelled to a city centre, restaurant, or bar to find.

“They don't want to turn back time: they expect better quality including food and specialty drinks, such as cocktails, that are harder to recreate at home.

“It’s the same with gardens. Sitting outside at the pub has become a new occasion and, if the outside space is good enough, customers will wrap up to enjoy it even in the winter months."

Challenging times

He added: “Outdoor facilities also remain important for those who are still cautious about going out as the UK learns to live with Covid.

“The cost-of-living squeeze is magnifying these trends. People are looking for a really great experience when they go out.

“These are challenging times; however, we are confident well-invested pubs that adapt to market changes will have a bright, long-term future.” 

Additionally, the investment, which is expected to create 700 new jobs and benefit 660 pubs in total, will bring the pub company's total investment into the improvement of its sites to £115m since the pandemic started and to £300m since 2014, it estimated.

Case studies

Sites that have already received a makeover include the White Bear in Knutsford, Cheshire, which received a £183,000 investment by Star in a £200,000 joint refurbishment with licensees Jamie Whittaker and Kelly Vickers, the Cambria in Camberwell, south London, which received a £600,000 joint investment from Star and Prospect Pubs & Bars as well as the White Swan near Derby, with a joint £120,000 investment by Star and licensees Joanne Kershaw and Michael Lewis.

Kershaw said: “With four pubs in the village, we have to attract people from further afield as well as local residents to keep the White Swan thriving.

“The inside is beautiful and the garden now provides another reason to visit. We’ve been amazed by the difference the refurbishment has made.

“It had an instant impact on trade; we’ve been far busier. Customers can’t believe the transformation. They absolutely love the changes.”

Related topics: Star Pubs & Bars

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