Star invests almost £7m in pub gardens

Star Pubs & Bars is pumping £6.73m into revamping the outside of its pubs and creating great outdoor spaces in 2019, with some 230 pubs set to benefit.

More than 120 pubs are receiving external makeovers to improve their appeal and attract passing trade. At an average cost of £26k, these projects include redecoration, lighting and new signs to boost impact. The schemes also reposition and enhance entrances to give them maximum prominence and modernise dated-looking buildings.

The investment is transforming outdoor areas into stunning gardens and alfresco eating and drinking areas at nearly 110 pubs. With growing customer demand for pubs that provide memorable spaces and premium experiences, the designs make the most of any surrounding views and use features such as fire pits and festoon lighting to create atmosphere. The incorporation of play areas and activities ranging from table tennis to screens adds a further dimension.

The upgraded areas are designed to increase covers and trading space for licensees and prolong the pub garden season to at least nine months a year. Permanent wood structures with slated rooves, sheds, pods and awnings are being installed to provide weatherproofing.

Star’s outdoor improvements are part of its ongoing £50m investment programme for 2019.

Property director Chris Moore said, “Pub-goers increasingly want to eat and drink outside. It’s something many people enjoy when they’re travelling abroad and they love getting that same holiday feel at their local. With research* suggesting 50% of people are planning a staycation this year for their main summer break, we’ve been working flat out to complete as many gardens as possible in time for the school holidays.

“Pub gardens have changed beyond all recognition in the last decade. They’re used less for smoking and more for enjoying fresh air. A lawn and picnic benches no longer cut it. Customers expect the same attention to design and comfort they get inside the pub when they’re outdoors.”

Adds Bruno, licensee of The Garratt Tavern in Wandsworth, which has benefited from a £100k garden investment, said, “The garden is giving us another income stream and attracting a whole new customer base to the pub – it’s almost like having a second business. People want to be outside when the weather is good. We’re packed out on sunny days but thanks to the our new outdoor bar, nobody goes thirsty.”

Case study: The Garratt Tavern, Wandsworth (pictured)
A £100,000 investment at The Garratt Tavern in South West London is typical of Star’s approach when it comes to investment in outside spaces.

The garden now has seating for 120, a bar with draught products and a covered area, which adds 60 covers to the pub’s trading space year-round. The structure is oak beamed with removable sides and two big screens and is also perfect for pub events, private functions and watching sport.

German bierkeller - style tables and benches and a mix of lighting add to the ambience whilst a faux flower wall spelling out The Garratt Tavern’s name provides an instagrammable spot for customers and promotes the pub.

The garden is now the best outdoor space in the area. Trade at the pub has doubled since its completion at the start of June, despite being up against the World Cup and warmer weather in 2018.

*The Sykes Staycation Index 2019