Star operator takes on new lease & plans to have 25 sites by 2025

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Property refurbs: this week's round-up includes Star Pubs and Bars, Punch Pubs and M&B
Property refurbs: this week's round-up includes Star Pubs and Bars, Punch Pubs and M&B

Related tags Property Star pubs & bars Multi-site pub operators

This week's property refurbs round-up includes investment from Star Pubs & Bars, Mitchells & Butlers, Punch Pubs and more.

Star operator opens new site and shares growth plans 


A southeast based multiple operator has taken on a Star Pubs & Bars site with the intention of having 25 pubs by 2025.

Brian Coughlan last month signed the lease for the Whyte Harte Hotel in Bletchingly, near Redhill, while a £500k joint investment from both parties to transform the site started earlier this week.

Though this is the start of a much bigger journey for Coughlan, who plans to have 25 pubs by 2025 despite current “challenges” face by the pub industry, which he said would be “temporary”.

“People had enough of being locked up after Covid. They want to go out and are budgeting accordingly. They might now drink three rather than six pints, but they still want to socialise.

“When we come out of this inflationary period, I believe people will go back to spending more and we’ll be well placed to benefit from this.

“The pubs we run are a mix of L&T, freehold and free of tie. They’re all different, ranging from a late-night city venue to a student pub and community locals. What they share is they’re welcoming places for people to meet up.

“Our approach is to look at a pub and identify why it wasn’t doing well previously and then fix it.

Next level

“We put the right person behind the bar and introduce high standards. With The Whyte Harte Hotel, we’re now upgrading the pub to match the high service provided”, he continued.

The Whyte Harte is set to be given a makeover inside and out to create an “upmarket local country style pub with 13 ensuite letting rooms”, as descried by Star, with work to reconfigure to the dining space to provide seating for 91 people.

Outside, the site will benefit from the addition of a decked seating area for 30 people at the front of the pub, a covered pergola area with tables and seating for 24 covers at the rear and an upper garden seating area with space for a further 60 guests.

In addition to serving “traditional pub classics”, the Whyte Harte will also offer breakfast, cater for weddings and host tasting evenings, quiz nights and monthly live entertainment.

Star business development manager Mark Marijnen said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Brian on the refurbishment of The Whyte Harte Hotel so early in the new year.

“He’s a very experienced operator with a diverse pub estate and a real understanding of the local markets he caters for.

“The investment will take The Whyte Harte Hotel to the next level and create a lovely family friendly country pub with a great reputation for food.

Having 13 ensuite letting rooms and being located so near to Gatwick gives the pub added appeal both for travellers and for weddings.

“I wish Brian and his team well and look forward to helping him realise his growth ambitions in the southeast.”

Star also saw northeast operators Craig and Stacey Wright add a third pub to their portfolio this week, The Big Jug in Durham, with a £400,000 upgrade to the site set to be carried out with the pubco.

Latest venture 


With a sympathetic revamp of the Grade II listed pub set to increase covers from 37 to 69, in addition to new décor, fixtures and fittings throughout, the operators plan to create a relaxed and sociable atmosphere at The Big Jug.

Aiming to appeal to locals, students and visitors alike, the pub will serve grab-and-go style food such as pizzas, paninis and sharing boards while four new TV screens will also be installed at the pub to show sporting events.

In addition, live music will also be a regular feature at the Big Jug and the venue’s exterior will also receive a makeover.

Star business development manager Lance Green said: “Craig and Stacey are experienced and successful pub operators with a detailed knowledge of the Durham market.

“They have turned around their other two pubs and will do the same with The Big Jug. We’re delighted to be investing with them.

“The Big Jug needed the right people to take it on, which it now has. I wish Craig and Stacey success with their latest venture.”

M&B reopens four historic London pubs


Mitchells and Butler (M&B) have relaunched four “historic” sites in London under its Nicholson’s Pubs arm.

Situated on the Strand, The Wellington reopened recently followed by The Porcupine in Leicester Square, The Green Man in Soho and The Drayton Arms on Old Brompton Road after six figure investments.

Described by M&B a “quintessential British pub positioned in a prime spot”, The Wellington which is adjacent to the Lyceum Theatre, is named after revered general and Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, whose triumph over Napoleon in 1815 signalled the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars.

The Wellington’s general manager said: “We are so excited with our new look and look forward to welcoming back our guests old and new, delighting them with our fabulous food and drinks.”

Meanwhile The Porcupine, which dates back to 1723, offers guests “classic dishes” and The Green Man, a Grade II listed site in the heart of Soho, boasts plenty of space to showcase sporting events.

Lastly, The Drayton Arms on Old Brompton Road, which dates back to 1860, has been “lovingly restored” and benefits from a 51-seater theatre above the pub.

Punch reopens Cheshire pub after four-week long refresh 


Punch Pubs has welcomed customers back to The Ferry in Wallasey following the completion of a month-long renovation project as part of a joint investment from the operator and pubco. 

The Ferry, which is on Tobin Street and is operated by Chris Stockton, boasts views of the Liverpool skyline and the River Mersey and has benefitted from new flooring and internal decorations throughout as well as other minor modifications to the pub's bar and trading areas.

Externally, the pub's signage and lightly have also been completely refurbished with outdoor decorations also added to its spacious beer garden as well as bi-folding doors in the lower lounge to allow guests to enjoy the views all year round. 

Stockton said: “We are very proud and excited to have reopened The Ferry. We were really pleased with the end result and couldn’t wait to welcome our customers back.

“I’d also like to thank Punch Pubs for partnering on the project, the contractors who carried out the work and the Ferry team for all their efforts during the closure. Not to mention our customers for their messages of support and good will.”

Guests can also enjoy home-cooked pub classics with locally sourced ingredients from the updated menu, which includes hunters chicken and Sunday roasts as well as seafood dishes and steaks alongside a wide range of beers, ales, wines, spirits and soft drinks.  

Punch Pubs operations manager Peter Kilpatrick said: “Chris is a fantastic publican who runs a great pub at the heart of the community in Wallasey. The Ferry provides a warm and inviting environment and no matter who walks through the door, they’re made to feel comfortable as they step inside."

The Burton-on-Trent based operator also recently added The Young Pretender in Congleton to its 1,300 strong and growing portfolio of pubs across the UK.

With many exciting plans in motion, the Young Pretender, which will be renamed as Bench Bistro, is set to reopen with Publicans Richard and Verity Shaw, who have been at the helm of the site since 2018.

Punch Pubs head of estate development and acquisitions Andrew Cannons said: “We are pleased to welcome the Young Pretender into the Punch family and look forward to working with our publicans Richard and Verity in bringing these plans alive.

“We will provide them with Punch’s industry-leading investment and support, to allow this fantastic pub to flourish once again. We look forward to providing the community with further updates as these plans progress.”

Chickpea to open new site in Salisbury 


Wiltshire-based Chickpea Group will open its latest venue in the founders’ hometown of Salisbury.

The group has acquired the Market Inn in Salisbury’s market square and will reopen the pub in March.

The pub, which dates back to 1904, will have 60 covers inside and a further 80 outside and the menu will be overseen by executive chef Harry Russell. Read more here​.

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