Add value to the bar

Design can boost income for premises

The refurbishment of a venue can attract more customers and bring a real boost to takings, say design firms.

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But the time chosen to transform a premises is crucial, because it can have a major impact on trade.

“Generally you would work back the way from major festive periods or sporting events so you know when you want to be open and trading – i.e. Christmas, the World Cup, etc – and depending on how long the fit out would take,” said Scott McIntyre of NRS Architects.

“January to March can be quieter times for venues but it depends on what your offer is.”

Not all venue revamps require a full refurbishment and sometimes even minor design changes can have a lucrative impact on business, according to Norman Laidlaw of Laidlaw Contracts.

“Obviously any upgrading should be carried out before the pub or venue starts to look tired,” said Laidlaw.

“When the premises look tired it also looks dirty and then you lose customers.

“But a full upgrade does not have to happen – the place just has to be cleaned and tidied up.”

He advised operators planning a full refurbishment of their premises to employ the services of a professional designer.

“With both yours and the designer’s ideas on a plan you can then put this information out to tender for competitive prices and quotes,” said Laidlaw.

Jeff Taylor of Select Contract Furniture said a successful refurbishment generally has a “positive and often dramatic effect” on business.

He said: “We were recently involved in a project which resulted in an increase of room rate by 500%.

“The client is now instantly embarking upon further work such was the impact of the revamp.”

Angus Alston, director of building contractors Hugh Stirling, said the pay-off for bars and restaurants can be worth the effort and attract a completely different clientele.

“The impact can be very significant –  even spending as little as £30,000 could achieve quite a dramatic change; with new carpets, fixed seating, lighting, redecoration, etc,” said Alston.

“We work with a number of the pub companies carrying out a rolling programme of relatively minor spends, which often have quite a dramatic change to the look.”

For those looking to cut costs, Alston suggested going directly to the supplier, but advised appointing a main contractor to co-ordinate work.

“Operators can reduce the cost of refurbishment by ordering some of
the fixtures and fittings direct,” said Alston. 

“The actual trades though are best organised through the main contractor as this ensures one person is solely responsible for delivery within the timescale.”