Heineken’s pub business arm – Star Pubs & Bars – is not shy when it comes to helping its licensees bring their ideas to life for the long-term health of the pub
At Star Pubs & Bars, we’re passionate about helping licensees create pubs that are sustainable in the long term, not just the year ahead.
That’s why Heineken has a programme of investment to keep pubs fresh and relevant to customers. Last year alone, we invested £44m in upgrading the pubs in our estate. We’re not shy of making significant investments in excess of £500,000 either. If the business requires it, we’ll do it. We’re also mindful of your cash flow so look to keep ingoing costs low. We have a unique fixtures and fittings policy whereby we fund high-cost items such as ovens, fridges, and grills, which can be especially high with food-focused pubs, reducing the capital you need to invest at the outset. And where needed, we also have start-up and first year support packages to cushion you in the all-important first few months.
We believe in taking a flexible approach to property investment because we think that’s how to achieve the best results. We work alongside licensees from the outset to get the right design and offer for each pub – after all, we do this day in, day out so have the experience and insight. We’re happy to either partner in your scheme or, as is more usually the case, provide a start-to-end solution using our designers and contractors, handing the keys over to you on completion. And it’s not just the building that gets the attention, we subsidise you on an intensive one-week course allowing you to review details of your business plan and look at your offer from all angles, provide one-on-one business building support through business development managers who have in-depth knowledge of your postcode, and provide you with training, marketing and food insights to help you grow your business.
Starting any business means taking a risk, but it should be managed risk and we don’t feel it should be yours alone. We offer five-year rolling leases that uniquely have the security of landlord and tenant protection. Unlike others, we also don’t include annual RPIs in any of our agreements. It’s only by making your business a success that we both reap the rewards. That’s after all the rationale for creating sustainable businesses. Here are a few of the businesses we’ve helped in 2018:
Freedom to flourish
The Hurt Arms, Ambergate – a top-quality Derbyshire country inn and wedding venue run by multiple operators BKJ Leisure. With a construction business of its own and two other wedding venues, it made sense for us to take a backseat on this £1m joint investment and let the business take the lead on the design and build, which included the addition of a function room with private bar and toilets, six en-suite bedrooms and a bridal suite. The results are stunning, and the business has got off to a flying start. It hosted 12 weddings in the first seven months with 45 already booked for 2019. General manager Luke Richards said: “It’s been a new experience working with a partner because we normally do everything ourselves.
We had great input from the Star Pubs & Bars team and were really interested in their ideas. We hope this will be the first of a number of projects with them.”
Revamp and food offer
The Station Hotel in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, a high street pub whose investment broadened its appeal. The sum of £337,000 was spent upgrading the interior and exterior of the pub with a modern industrial look, adding full height windows and creating a light and airy open-plan bar and separate dining area. One year on, trade has more than doubled thanks to the introduction of food. For new licensee, and former shop owner, Cheryl Jeffrey, having experts to hold your hand from start to finish was a boon. She explained: “It really helped going through my business plan in-depth on the Innside Knowledge course. I also enjoyed the whole refurbishment process, from the weekly meetings, business development manager meetings and the capex support coach
through to putting my stamp on the pub. The coach was really helpful, particularly focusing on the kitchen – how to get food out, present and promote it. I’d definitely do the whole experience again.” To see a timelapse video of the transformation at the Station Hotel, visit Star Pubs & Bars’ YouTube channel.
The Dolphin in Newbury, Berkshire, is a mix of pub, house and garden, and Buff & Bear Saloons’ second site with Star Pubs & Bars, with whom they are looking to grow their business. A £500,000 joint refurbishment transformed the listed building into a top-quality pub with five reception rooms each with their own individual character, all available to hire individually for private meetings or functions, and five boutique bedrooms. Ed Turner said: “Star Pubs & Bars were happy for us to completely take the lead on the project. They are very open to ideas. We had a clear vision of what we wanted at the Dolphin from the outset and Star helped us create it. The main contractors were brilliant, and we’ve ended up with a beautiful pub. We’ve just had the most fantastic Christmas. It’s a really exciting opportunity with plenty more growth to come.”
Trade increase of 300%
The Coachman, Whickham, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear – a community local given a new lease of life. A £550,000 joint investment brought the pub into the 21st century and enabled brothers Shaun and Mike O’Rourke to introduce food and coffee and host functions. Since reopening trade has increased 300%. Mike said of the refurbishment: “The whole design and build experience was very positive. It’s an open process. We were involved at every step and were able to have an input into the finishes. There was always a good atmosphere on site as the builders knew each other from previous jobs.”