STAR Pubs & Bars has thrown its weight behind soft drinks with the appointment of its first dedicated category buyer.
Seeking to reflect the “growing popularity of soft drinks” and bolster soft drinks sales support for its lessees, the pub company arm of Heineken has named Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) as its official soft drinks category partner.
With draught products accounting for more than half of soft drinks sales, according to Star Pubs & Bars – a figure which the pubco reckons continues to grow – CCEP will begin installing new dispense equipment in pubs across Star’s estate.
Additionally, the firm is said to be working with leading brands across the category to provide “business building insight and advice” to lessees.
Promotional materials, such as ice buckets, menu cards and glassware, as well as low and no-sugar point of sale materials will also be made available to lessees.
Overseeing the step change in Star’s approach to soft drinks is Paul Hunter.
Hunter, who previously worked for Greene King as its category manager for soft drinks and spirits, is said to bring a wealth of experience to the role – and is undertaking a “major review” of the category “to create a market leading consumer offer”.
In line with market trends, the new range will place greater emphasis on premium mixers, such as Schweppes 1783 Salty Lemon and Cucumber tonics, low and no-sugar and healthier options, as well as drinks from smaller craft producers.
Hunter said: “Soft drinks are hugely important to licensees nowadays, with the growth in family dining and one in five adults now teetotal.
“Consumers are looking for better experiences and higher quality drinks, as well as low and no-sugar options.
“A good range is always about consumer-focus and balance, having products from smaller craft to leading brands.
“Our strategy is to offer licensees the right brands for their style of pub and to provide the market insight on how to make a soft drinks offer exciting and engaging.”