Star Pubs & Bars run Discovery Days to attract new managed operators

Blacksmiths, Inverness.

Star Pubs & Bars is to run a series of Discovery Days in Scotland in a bid to demystify its low-cost, low-risk pub managed operator model and increase numbers in Scotland.

The new operator training will be free to interested candidates who pass screening who will receive the complimentary training on operating a Just Add Talent (JAT) pub without any obligation to proceed.

The package, worth £2,000,  includes online training followed by a five-day hands-on workshop at a JAT House of Excellence.  Attendees sample the food and drinks typically served, tour the site to understand its operation, hear an operator’s first hand account of running a JAT pub and can participate in a Q&A session.

Star are holding  12 immersive managed operator Discovery Days in Scotland and have created 11 new House of Excellence training pubs. Its aim is to raise awareness of managed operator agreements, which help insulate self-employed pub operators from rising costs including the lack of business rates relief in Scotland.

Star’s – Just Add Talent (JAT) model – is a turnover and profit share agreement with an ingoing cost of £4,000 compared to at least £10,000 for a leased and tenanted pub. Operators are self-employed and fund their and their staff’s salaries and associated costs. Star pays for all other expenses including utilities, rates, food, drinks and repairs, with the revenue and profit shared between both parties. The pub’s consumer offer is set by Star and comes with extensive support.

Managed operator agreements have become increasingly popular in England and Wales in recent years and now account for nearly a third of applications that Star receives, but they are still relatively rare in Scotland.

Operations Director for Scotland, Matt Dyson says, “It’s tough moving from being an employee to taking on your first pub in Scotland. Many pubs are freehold, have high ingoing costs and don’t come with any support. Managed operator pubs are a great way for people with limited funds to run a pub. In England and Wales, there’s been a surge in demand for them, due in part to the uncertainty created by rising overheads, high energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis. The combination of low ingoing costs, relatively low risk and high levels of support is particularly attractive at the current time.”

The company currently has 14 pubs available on managed operator agreements in Scotland and expects this number to increase.

In addition to external recruitment, Star has launched a JAT Academy, providing personal development plans, online training and a residential course for staff at JAT pubs interested in becoming self-employed operators.

Case studies:

Having managed Co-op convenience stores followed by a local hotel bar, 23-year-old Matthew MacGillivray took on The Blacksmiths in Culloden – near to where he lives – in November last year. Says Matthew, “I wanted to be captain of my own ship rather than working for someone else but at my age I didn’t have the money for a lease. I wasn’t even aware managed operator agreements existed until I saw The Blacksmiths advertised. They’re an excellent option for anyone wanting to operate a pub without a big financial outlay. There’s lots of support and the food and drink menus are provided, so I don’t have to worry about them. At the same time, I’ve got control over employing my team, engaging the community through activities and building up a following. Ultimately I’d like a leased pub; this is the perfect route in. It’s a good feeling to see all my hard work pay off, the team delivering and the pub busy. Managed operator agreements are a much-needed addition to the Scottish pub industry but people aren’t familiar with them. I’d recommend anyone considering operating a pub to go to a Discovery Day to find out more – it was well worth it for me.”

Harvies in Paisley is the latest Star pub to become available on a managed operator agreement. A premium local in the heart of Paisley it is already a thriving business. Star expects trade to increase further with the introduction of its varied food menu, a new coffee offer and an increased focus on sports with TNT, Sky and Viaplay all available as part of the JAT package.


Category: News
Tags: Discovery Days, Just Add Talent, Matt Dyson, Matthew MacGillivray, Star Pubs & Bars, The Blacksmiths