Don’t neglect your venue’s appearance

A strong interior design can help establish atmosphere and set an outlet apart

The look and feel can make a huge difference to the success of a venue, say design firms

FIRST impressions matter. There’s no escaping this – especially in today’s on-trade where consumer expectations are said to be higher than ever. And so it’s vital to be proactive about replacing worn furniture and tired decor.

That was the message from design firms, who told SLTN that the start of the year – a typically quieter period for the trade – can be the ideal time to carry out a refurbishment and boost profits in the year ahead.

Tony Clark, director of Trade Furniture Company, told SLTN: “The new year can serve as a perfect time to introduce a revamped design to any venue, be that a bar, restaurant or hotel – and the right design can help restaurateurs, hoteliers and licensees draw in more customers and maximise profits in what is traditionally a quieter period for trade in the early months of a new year.”

Ross Nicholl, managing director of The Wooden Floor Store, suggested working through the night to minimise disruption to business, as well as appointing “the right tradespeople and [using] the right products”.

However, whatever the refurbishment plan for a venue, “the most important consideration is what difference it will make to your bottom line”, according to Norman Laidlaw of Laidlaw Contracts, who said a good refurbishment “can have an exponential effect on turnover”.

He explained:  “A simple paint job will stop your pub looking tired and help to retain customers and attract passing trade. Whereas a major refurbishment project could transform the space and not only affect the look and feel, but utilise space better to provide opportunities to increase sales and profits as well as attracting new customers and taking your pub to the next level.

“Pubs now often have to compete with cafes and restaurants which are chasing after the same customers.

“Today, customers expect a great experience wherever they go. Therefore, decor and ambience needs to appeal to customers who have a choice of many different venues.”

There are advantages to staff, too, said Ross Craig, marketing manager at KI Commercial Interiors.

“As well as the upturn in revenue, a successful renovation will generate a positive energy in the establishment, benefiting not only the clientele but, just as importantly, the staff.”

But before moving forward with any type of redesign, factors such as budget, timescale, a “rationalised brief”, and a lead time for furnishes and finishes should all be considered, said Scott McIntyre of Nicoll Russell Studios.

This was echoed by Laidlaw of Laidlaw Contracts, who said: “Allowing adequate time for the tradesman to complete the work and a bit extra to allow for unforeseen delays is wise.

“Trying to rush the job creates undue stress for everyone.”

And Craig of KI Commercial Interiors said failing to properly plan a refurbishment “is probably the most common mistake”.

“Every detail should be covered and clearly communicated to all parties involved,” he said.

“In reality challenges will arise, and it’s at these times the importance of collaboration and teamwork that will take the project through to a successful conclusion.”

When considering a design refresh of any size, it’s important to be mindful of the latest interior trends, reckons McIntyre of Nicoll Russell Studios.

For instance, he said “bold colours and luxury textures, animal prints/botanicals/fabrics are on-trend”, with golds, coppers, pinks, greens and blues   “all proving popular”.