Buzzworks Holdings has the potential to realise an estate of more than 50 sites in Scotland and achieve annual turnover of more than £100m, MD Kenny Blair told MCA’s Pub Conference.

Its success to date has partly been down to the family-run pub and restaurant group’s focus on securing “interesting buildings in unusual locations”, which have included a former ship building shed in Port Edgar Marina and public toilets in Edinburgh.

Presenting to conference delegates during an innovation showcase on creating compelling customer experiences, at the conference last week, Blair said the group tended to operate in towns of between 10,000 and 40,000 residents, with highly visible sites, often in waterfront or seaside locations.

It currently has two sites in the pipeline and a further three in negotiation and is specifically looking at larger venues as well as diversifying into accommodation – with two of its sites ready to build out with rooms.

But location isn’t always an indicator of success, as Blair noted, with one of its pubs in Greenock – voted the second worst place to live in Scotland, outperforming its location in North Berwick – voted one of the best places to live in Great Britain.

“We focus on aspirational casual drinking and dining in properties that I like to say: ‘have a buzz’. Our mission is making life in your town a little bit better,” Blair explained.

As a general rule, the group doesn’t say no to any opportunities straight away, he added.

One particular example he gave of a turnaround property was The Corner House in a town called Kilwinning, which was in a sad state of repair when it was acquired.


“We bought it as a freehold for £80k and invested a significant sum to turn it into The Corner House, which has been a really successful business for us.

“We have called that our ‘New York moment’, because if you can make it there, you can probably make it anywhere,” he joked.


While the look and feel of its pubs are modern and sophisticated, Blair said that due to their locations – in towns and suburbs across the central belt of Scotland – the offer can’t be too niche or too specialist. “We have got to focus on making sure that everyone in your family can find something they like on our menus and drinks lists.”

Buzzworks reported a 19% increase in revenue to £29.9m in the year ended 30 April 2023, and invested £4.7m in new and existing venues during the year. This included the opening of Scotts in Greenock and Thirty Knots in South Queensferry.