Brewery giant to invest £1.16m in West Country pubs

Brewing giant Heineken is to invest over £1.16m in its West Country pubs.

The brewer is investing £39m in upgrading and reopening pubs in its Star Pubs’ estate in 2024.

The move will create an estimated 1,075 new jobs.  Over £1.16m is allotted to West Country* pub investments with a further £163k invested by licensees.

And around jobs will be created in the region on the back of the refurbishments.

A quarter (612) of HEINEKEN UK’s 2,400 pubs are in line for improvement nationally, with 94 of these set for makeovers costing on average £200,000.

One West Country pub that has benefited from this type of investment is The Victoria Inn in Hucclecote, Gloucestershire where a £385,000 refurbishment created 10 jobs.

The investment has broadened the pub’s appeal and reintroduced food thanks to a new kitchen.

The tired pub – which had few customers before – has been transformed into a top-quality family-friendly local. It has a function room complete with working skittle alley, a dedicated sports room kitted out with a new pool table, darts throw and a state-of-the-art AV system showing TNT and Sky Sports, and a large beer garden.

The pub now has its own darts & pool leagues, bingo nights, weekly karaoke and disco and hosts regular live music. Indoor skittles are due to start for the summer.

New licensee Kirsty Jones said: “The Victoria really needed an upgrade.  The investment has brought The Victoria Inn into the 21st century.  It has breathed life back into the pub and is attracting new faces by giving people multiple reasons to visit.”

With working from home more commonplace and people looking to save on travel, major refurbishments will concentrate on transforming tired pubs in suburban areas into premium locals.

The revamps are designed to broaden each pub’s use and appeal, giving people additional reasons to visit. Subtle zoning will signpost pubgoers to the area likely to suit them best, enabling different groups of customers to simultaneously enjoy a variety of activities – from watching sports to dining – without disturbing each other.

Dividing screens and distinct changes to lighting, sound systems and furniture styles will help delineate the zones. The new designs will have a stylish classic feel, providing longevity. Reflecting customers’ increased expectations, the projects will be carried out to a high standard and will impact every part of the pubs, from the toilets to the gardens.

Other common changes will include overhauling cellars with state-of-the-art dispense equipment to ensure consistently perfect pints and repositioning tills to speed up service. Furthering progress against HEINEKEN UK’s ambition to be net zero across its entire value chain by 2040, substantial projects will feature energy efficiency measures, such as heating controls, insulation and low- energy lighting, that will typically cost £12,500 per pub and cut energy use by 15%.

Lawson Mountstevens, Star Pubs’ managing director, said: “People are looking for maximum value from visits to their local. They want great surroundings and food and drink as well as activities that give them an extra reason to go out, such as sports screenings and entertainment. Creating fantastic locals that can accommodate a range of occasions meets this need and helps pubs fulfil their role as vital third spaces where communities can come together.

“Pubs have proved their enduring appeal; after all the disruption of recent years, Star is on track to have the lowest number of long-term closed pubs since 2019. It’s a tribute to the drive and entrepreneurship of licensees and the importance of continued investment. We’ve spent more than £200m maintaining and upgrading our pubs over the last five years, and we’ll continue to invest to keep them open and thriving. Time and again we see the value consumers place on having a good local and how important it is to communities. Well-invested pubs run by great licensees are here to stay, but like all locals, need Government support to reduce the enormous tax burden they shoulder.”