Suppliers tell SLTN it’s crucial that operators prepare outdoor spaces in time for new season
LARGE parts of Scotland are still covered in snow, but now is the ideal time for operators to refresh their outdoor areas, according to equipment suppliers contacted by SLTN last week.
Specialists in outdoor furnishings have insist that licensees who wait too long to spruce up their beer gardens could end up paying the price as customers head elsewhere.
Quoting the maxim that ‘first impressions count’, Martyn Nichols, sales manager at furniture supplier Woodberry of Leamington Spa, said outdoor areas should be prioritised by operators ahead of spring.
“If left too late, the season will be underway and there is often very little time to effect change, possibly leaving the area looking rather shabby,” Nichols said.
“If you upgrade early, people are bound to notice, and will plan a visit when it suits them. There is always an appeal about a refurbished business.”
Attracting customers who are smokers is one of the key advantages of having a fresh and comfortable outdoor area, which if done correctly can make a real difference to a pub’s bottom line, according to Smart Interiors. The company said it’s important smokers do not feel as if they are “being treated unfairly and pushed out into the cold”.
The company recommends using hanging baskets or planters with fragrant plants, such as honeysuckle and lavender, to help mask the smell of stale tobacco.
Flowers can also play a role in helping a pub stand out from its competitors.
Helen Woods of Glasgow-based Cuthbertson & Woods, a specialist in artificial flowers, said the addition of flowers to a pub’s exterior can make a “huge difference” to customers.
“If someone’s glancing down the high street they’re more likely to notice somewhere with bushes and hanging baskets outside than if you’ve got nothing,” said Woods. “It makes the place look a bit more upmarket.”
Woods also stressed the importance of maintaining any outdoor display, claiming that too few pubs prioritise exterior decor.
Providing customers with the option to eat outside is another way outlets can differentiate themselves, said Brenda Lavelle of Cinders Barbecues.
“It is a well-known fact that the al fresco sector accounts for an increasingly large chunk of food consumption in the UK, so it makes sense for pubs, clubs, hotels and restaurants to dip into this profitable area,” she said.
Image – Offering consumers the chance to dine outside can help drive business, said Cinders Barbecues.