Heineken is investing £4 million in its Star Pubs & Bars estate in Scotland this year. The programme will focus on big, bold refurbishments that make the most of each pub’s potential, premiumise what it offers and meet the community’s changing needs and lifestyles, whilst remaining sympathetic to the building’s heritage.
Sixty per cent of the expenditure will go on major revamps of nine pubs, with an average spend of £268,000. Pubs of all kinds are set to benefit, from city bars to neighbourhood locals, the majority in Scotland’s central belt.
Changes include developing food, adding good coffee and enhancing outside spaces. The improvement programme will create 92 new jobs in pubs.
The company has also identified a further £2.88 million of refurbishment projects it would like to undertake at pubs throughout the country, subject to licensee recruitment and planning.
Star Pubs & Bars operations director for Scotland, Brian Davidson, said, “This investment is a sign of our confidence in the future of Scotland’s pubs and our commitment to their success. In our experience, the greater and more visible the changes, the more a pub thrives following investment. We are undertaking transformational projects in order to exceed expectations, provide extra reasons for people to visit and attract new customers as a result.”
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said, “This investment is further demonstration of the confidence of major companies to continue to invest in Scotland. That investment will not only create a significant number of jobs, but will also provide a boost to Scottish food and drink producers, who should benefit from more pubs serving locally-sourced produce.”
Blackfriars at Inverness is one of the pubs receiving investment (pictured). The pub has been closed since September 2017. A six-month £1.36 million refurbishment starts on site next week to reopen it.
The work will sympathetically restore the Grade B 18thcentury building, removing the render to expose the original brickwork and replacing the roof. The pub will be upgraded throughout and a new kitchen installed so that great food can be introduced.
Two upper stories will be converted into eight en-suite letting rooms to provide quality accommodation for Inverness’ burgeoning tourism trade. The pub will be renamed The Optimist to signal its new direction.
Operator Billy McAneney is taking on the leased site. He said, “Blackfriars has lots of potential but it couldn’t survive on a drinks trade alone; it needs to add letting rooms and good food to meet the needs of local residents and visitors and make it viable as a business. The changes and the investment required are substantial. It’s great to be part of a project that will reopen such a beautiful old pub and bring it back to life.”