A hot opportunity on your doorstep

With summer approaching, the need for great outdoor areas in the on-trade escalates

Appropriate use of furniture and greenery can ensure a venue’s outdoor area shines throughout the summer, according to Benholm Group

AS the second half of the year gets underway, consumers’ desire to eat and drink al fresco intensifies.

Last year’s summer, the UK’s joint hottest on record, brought great sales with it for pubs and bars with the outdoor areas necessary to capitalise on the sizzling days.

So while many operators will be hoping for a repeat performance this year, they have been advised by outdoor furniture firms to take full advantage by making their beer gardens as irresistible as a cold drink on a hot day.

“The summer season is one of the most crucial trading periods for many licensed operators,” said Simon Tappenden, managing director at Ovation Outdoor.

“A combination of the longer, warmer days and the social side of enjoying a drink with friends and family in an out of home environment combine to drive sales throughout the summer months.”

Peter Bennett, marketing manager of outdoor furniture supplier LeisureBench, stated there are several advantages to having a great beer garden during the warmer months.

An outdoor area with suitable furniture will increase profits rather than being
a ‘dead’ space

He said: “Firstly, outdoor space is profitable space, so filling that area with suitable outdoor furniture will increase profits rather than it being a ‘dead’ space.

“Secondly, a beer garden will attract families in the summer months, providing a facility for children and parents.

“Outdoor areas can also increase pub meal possibilities for eating outdoors where food is served.”

For licensees looking to maximise the appeal of their outdoor areas, contemporary design trends should be considered alongside more practical factors, said firms.

“Following last summer’s scorching temperatures and long, warm evenings, operators will be looking to make the most of this year’s outdoor season by investing in furniture that gives customers the ultimate al fresco experience,” said Maurus Reisenthel, managing director of furniture company Go In.

“Wide woven straps, roughened surfaces with a natural feel, bright colours, Mediterranean patterns and traditional weave furniture with a twist will be on-trend for the coming year.”

Even the smallest beer gardens can be turned into a money-spinning space this summer with the right planning, said Adrian Byne, marketing manager at Falkirk-based plant-related services provider Benholm Group.

He said: “Don’t cram it with furniture, you need enough space to make it feel relaxed.

“If the outdoor area is mainly for drinking, then use some tall poser tables and stools as they take up less space.

“Include natural elements such as plants and flowers as people have an innate connection with nature and it helps make even the smallest space feel right.

“And make the most use of wall-mounted and hanging options. This could include awnings or larger single-pole parasols, hanging baskets, green walls and wall-mounted signage.”

Beyond the matter of what furniture to place in beer gardens, from both an aesthetic and a health and safety perspective, it’s important to check furniture regularly for signs of wear and tear, said Bennett of LeisureBench.

“If it’s worn out replace it,” he said.

“There is always a risk of a customer becoming injured if great care is not taken in choosing the right products and the right quality.

“Check and retighten bolts and restain any furniture that is functional but looking shoddy.”