Slug & Lettuce reveals ‘transformational’ new look and plans for more

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Reopened site: feedback from the Deansgate refurbishment will be considered before the roll out of renovations is continued
Reopened site: feedback from the Deansgate refurbishment will be considered before the roll out of renovations is continued

Related tags Pubco + head office Finance Stonegate

Slug & Lettuce, the managed cocktail bar division of Stonegate Group, has reopened its flagship venue in Deansgate following a £680,000 investment.

The Grade II-listed site has received the renovation, which included a new back bar, evolved colour palette, bespoke murals, curated lighting, new booths and feature marble table tops.

The Manchester venue was the first to receive the new look, which looked to align with the brand’s aim to innovate and keep up with the ongoing shift in demand and trends.

Slug & Lettuce operations director Kate Wilton told The Morning Advertiser​: “Deansgate was the obvious selection to be the first one both on a personal level and because it’s such an iconic site on an iconic circuit.

“It is transformational – we have literally taken every element of the bar design book and we made changes. Some smaller than others but it has all been in direct response to what we learned from a large piece of guest research towards the end of last year.”

The research cited by Wilton revealed Slug & Lettuce guests were increasingly looking for a space to catch up with friends as well as a place to dance.

The new look features more bookable spaces for guests

She added: “Being able to provide that flexible space under one roof was something we were doing but [we wanted to look at] how could we do it better.

“We have put some more bookable spaces, booths and birdcages that are signature to Slug & Lettuce and definitely started in Slug & Lettuce.

“We have evolved the design of those but been smart about how we have zoned the overall bar into areas where you can have the slightly higher energy at the weekends equally, you can have more intimate space in other areas.

“It works really well, it’s magnificent. We could not be prouder of it.”

Guest research

The redesign followed the launch of new menus with cocktails and small plates at the core earlier this year (June).

Wilton added: “[Guests are] no longer looking for set main meals, they want more sharing food and drink and so we have done a bundle deal. That was a big change from where we were.

“We were pretty main heavy in the menu previously so we have made a significant move away from that and it has been well received.”

The plans for the ‘transformational’ makeover began back in 2022, when the guest research was commissioned and culminated in the new look for the Deansgate site.

“We did some elements of what we found from the research and evolved on a smaller scale in the sites through the marketing campaigns from January onwards,” Wilton added.

“The beginning of June was when we pressed the button on going live with new food and drink menus and uniforms but Deansgate is the first with the new design.”

The Stonegate-owned brand has 80 sites across the UK in locations such as Bath Birmingham, Bristol, Chester and Liverpool.

There are also lots of opportunities for guests to snap selfies including this giant iPhone.

Its plans are to continue the roll out of the new look throughout other venues within the Slug & Lettuce concept with the budget varying between sites.

Wilton added: “The budget will vary because the beauty of the brand is its diversity in terms of location and size, that drives the budget of what we allocate as well as where they sit in the amenity cycle i.e. if they have had a refurbishment recently so it is difficult to pinpoint a number of on it.

“We are working on the roll out plan as we want to take some time to pause and learn from Deansgate to make sure guest love it as much as we do.

“It’s really important time to listen to guests and sense check that what we have given them ticks all the boxes they are looking for.”

Battling headwinds

Operators are continuing to battle against rising prices and consumers having less money in their pockets and Slug & Lettuce is also seeing a difference in what consumers are looking for, according to Wilton.

She said: “We are all seeing the change in guest behaviours with some of the areas being positive. Bottomless brunches are nailing it and that is something we are keen to build on.

“We have to be the best in class from a hospitality experience perspective. We have got to make sure our guests leave our bars feeling better than they did when they arrived.”

“Our commitment to that is evident to that through all the week we have done since October and are continuing to do.”

Deansgate is the brand's first site to receive this new redesign.

While headwinds are ongoing for the sector, Wilton was optimistic about the future of Slug & Lettuce.

She added: “We have a loyal following. The guests are looking for more when coming out. Experiential occasions are growing. Guests are coming out more often for a celebratory occasion, wanting something that’s a bit different to the norm.

“On the basis that we have stood the test of time successfully for 38 years, we are in a really strong position but we don’t rest on our laurels we never have done.

“It is genuinely about being committed to listening to our guests and evolving accordingly.”

Related topics Stonegate Group

Related news

Show more