Heineken’s pub arm Star Pubs and Bars reveals £38m investment programme

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Heineken’s UK Star Pubs and Bars estate is set for a £38m boost as it seeks to transform its portfolio following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Around 700 pubs – almost a third of the sites in its estate – are poised to benefit from the investment pledge, which will also create around 500 jobs.

Nearly 80 pubs will be completely transformed with major makeovers costing between £125,000 and £400,000 each as part of the project, which brings Heineken UK’s total investment in its estate since January 2020 to £73m.

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The company said the programme builds on its £62m investment in rent reductions during the pandemic, and that every scheme will be tailored to the pub and the community it serves.

With people travelling less and many still working 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 aim to improve beer gardens and will also look to introduce better quality food, which is expected to account for 30% of sales.

Lawson Mountstevens, managing director of 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.”

Pubs benefiting from the programme include The Engine in Walbottle, Newcastle, which received £205,000 towards a £240,000 refurbishment. The pub’s makeover has also created six new jobs.

Originally planned for April 2020, the refurbishment was postponed due to Covid.

Funds were spent on creating a separate bar and dining and lounge area and bringing the interior up to date.

Licensee Peter Drummond said: “The refurbishment has taken The Engine to a new level. With houses being built nearby, there was a real need for a quality pub offering great drinks and excellent, yet affordable, pub food. Since opening we’ve seen an uplift in sales of around 50%.”

Star Pubs & Bars has more than 2,500 pubs leased out to small businesses and entrepreneurs around the UK.

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Coreena FordChronicle and Journal business writer