Pub group’s £38m revamp programme will create 500 jobs

Licensee Sarah Locke and partner Paul Stansfield
X The Business Desk

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A pubs group is investing £38m to improve 700 of is pubs in England and Wales, including £2.25m earmarked for its North West portfolio.

Following the recent easing of lockdown restrictions Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars has announced the refurbishment programme which is expected to create a total of 500 jobs.

Nearly 80 pubs will be completely transformed with major makeovers costing between £125,000 and £400,000 each.

Every scheme will be bespoke and tailored to the pub and the community it serves.

As Britons travel less and many still work from home, the investment will focus on creating premium locals in suburban and high street locations within a 10-minute walk from residential areas.

The revamps will make the pubs more comfortable and stylish inside and improve beer gardens. Better quality food will be introduced – which is typically expected to account for 30% of sales – as well as good coffee and premium spirits, wines, lagers and ciders.

Lawson Mountstevens, managing director, Star Pubs & Bars, said: “Many people have rediscovered the joy of their neighbourhood pub between lockdowns over the last year, and are opting to stay local.

“This investment responds to that demand giving communities quality pubs on their doorsteps. We’ve spent £62m on rent cuts to keep our pubs afloat during the pandemic. The pandemic has shown the resilience of the great British pub and especially the leased and tenanted model.

“We’re committed to building on that support with refurbishments, so that pubs around the country thrive for the long term.”

A £165,000 investment at Ye Olde Hob Inn in Bamber Bridge, Lancashire is typical of Star Pubs & Bars’ refurbishment programme.

It has put the pub on the map as a great quality, family-friendly local and created 10 jobs.

The work renovated the outside of the 17th-century pub, and the interior was also completely redecorated, bringing out its character and making it even more welcoming.

Ye Olde Hob Inn interior

A new 60-seater garden doubled the pub’s capacity, while a brand new kitchen meant up to 80% more home cooked meals could be served.

The pub opened in February last year, but due to lockdowns and the restrictions in the North West, was only able to open for five months in 2020 and four months this year.

Licensee, Sarah Locke, said: “People love the new look, and it’s bringing in all ages. Local residents who hadn’t been in for years, if ever, are now regulars, plus we’re attracting a lot more drive-by customers.

“We saw the impact of the refurbishment immediately. Sales trebled overnight when we reopened and have stayed at that level, despite a lot of local competition, COVID restrictions and the overall impact of the pandemic, which we really felt in this area.”