The investment leverages Star’s partnership with Heineken, creating a series of gardens themed with the company’s cider and beer brands.
Some 70 pubs will be given upgraded outside eating and drinking areas. The new garden layouts will also expand the number of covers and extend the outdoor season to nine months a year.
Following a successful trial in 2022, £1m is being allocated to branding 50 of the gardens with one of four Heineken products – Inch’s, Moretti, Beavertown or Heineken – that best complements each pub’s style.
Star Pubs & Bars property director Chris Moore said: “Many people invested in their own gardens during the pandemic and their expectations are higher than ever when it comes to sitting out at the pub."
He continued: “Customers want a fantastic outdoor space and to feel they’re having a treat. The cost-of-living crisis is fuelling the demand for quality; with less disposable income, pubgoers are more selective about where they spend their money. First impressions count, and a great looking exterior is key to attracting people.
“Being part of Heineken has ensured consistent investment for our pubs despite the challenges of recent years. Our new branded gardens’ initiative is an additional advantage bringing beer and cider brands alive in pubs.”
The branding’s features range from mural and huts to fire pits, planters and jumbrellas at various sites.
Some £5.5m will be spent on improving the kerb appeal of 150 pubs. The outside of the buildings will be redecorated with new lighting, planting and signage.
Entrances will also be improved to enhance access and the look of the buildings, and finishes like cladding will be used to transform estate pubs.
£5.8m of Star’s outdoor expenditure is part of its £40m investment in pub upgrades in 2023. The £1m branded gardens project is an additional investment.
One example of this investment is the Eagle in Cookley, Worcestershire. A disused area at the front of the pub has been converted with a £28,500 Birra Moretti branded garden that can accommodate 100 people. New paving, planting and festoon lighting have also been installed.
The Eagle licensee Dean Cox said: “The garden has a holiday feel and continental vibe, and the Moretti branding gives it the ‘wow factor’. It looks beautiful, and customers love it. The garden is a fantastic addition to the business.
“It’s a destination in its own right that draws people into the pub. All ages use the huts, and larger parties enjoy congregating under the jumbrellas. The extra capacity makes a real difference to trade. The garden has been packed out in the warmer weather, and there’s been a marked uplift in Moretti sales.”