Star set to spend on Scottish sites

Heineken-owned pubco has earmarked 14 units for major refurbs

Mick Howard said Star Pubs & Bars has a “structured plan” for investment in its pubs

FOURTEEN Scottish pubs have been earmarked for refurbishment as part of what’s claimed to be Heineken’s biggest annual investment in its Star Pubs & Bars estate.

The brewing giant said it will spend £4.4 million on its Scottish pubs this year; the bulk of the spend will be on 14 “major transformational refurbishments”.

Pubs in line for investment are a combination of existing Star Pubs & Bars sites and former Punch outlets which joined its stable following Heineken’s acquisition of around 1900 Punch pubs last August, 160 of which were in Scotland; the pubco’s Scottish estate now totals 260.

Projects include the former Phoenix on Broughton Street in Edinburgh, which has been earmarked for a £340,000 spend to transform it from a “sports-based community pub to a stylish bar offering food”; a £600,000 investment to reopen the Woodhall Arms in Currie; a £400,000 spend on McPhabbs in Glasgow; and an investment of between £400,000 and £450,000 at Blackfriars in Inverness.

Mick Howard, operations director at Star Pubs & Bars, said the latest projects are part of the company’s ongoing investment in its pubs.

“We have a very structured plan,” he said.

“We’ve a lot of plans for this year and next year, investing in wet-led pubs to create a more premium offer with food.

“We want pubs to prosper at the heart of their communities for generations to come and believe that they can do so when they are well-invested and run by good, motivated operators.  They need to continue to evolve to meet changing consumer needs and we’re there to help them do so.”

The Punch pubs are, he said, fully integrated in the Star estate, which is led in Scotland by Scottish operations director Brian Davidson with a team of eight BDMs; and Howard said Star Pubs & Bars is “constantly reviewing the support we offer lessees”.

“We offer support in a number of areas, from marketing to how to build a food offer; helping people build different income streams,” he said.

News of the investment came as Star Pubs & Bars launched a ‘free-from’ menu to help its licensees cater for what’s said to be growing demand.

The menu features 16 dishes and includes meat-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan options.