Heineken has announced a further £20m investment in its Star Pubs & Bars estate for 2017 – meaning it has spent £100m on the estate over the last five years.

The group told MCA that this would include 87 ‘transformational projects’ of over £100,000.

It said around £10m would be earmarked for rural and suburban pubs with a focus on improving food and coffee offers.

Heineken also unveiled the results of new research carried out on its behalf by Populus, which showed 23% of British adults visit their local pub once a week or more but that there are key areas where pubs should concentrate on consumers’ evolving demands.

The poll showed:

- Two thirds (62 percent) want their local to offer good food

- A third (37 percent) look for a nice pub garden

- A quarter (24 percent) would like free WiFi

- A fifth (20%) want to have live sport on TV

Specific projects that will benefit from the funds, include the Greyhound, Harlow, which is opening this month after a £250,000 refurbishment which include restoring the Grade II listed frontage and relandscaping the garden as well as creating a snug inside the pub.

The Greyhound in Halton will open next week after a £140,000 refurbishment to create a pub aimed at being a food destination and sports bar. It is also extending its hours to offer breakfast and coffee in the mornings.

Lawson Mountstevens, Star Pubs & Bars Managing Director, said: “Vibrant pubs are an affordable, fun place where people of all ages and backgrounds can come together. But as consumer demands have changed, pubs that struggled to keep pace have closed. We believe pubs run by skilled operators and backed by transformational investment can thrive in their role at the heart of communities.

“Two thirds of Star pubs are located in suburban or village locations. Residents in these areas are looking for the same choice and quality of drinks, good food and entertainment on their doorsteps as they get in city centres. Over the past five years we have invested c. £100 million in transforming our pubs in hundreds of communities across the country. The continued investment creates pubs people want to use, benefitting local communities and creating local jobs.”

John Longden OBE, Pub is the Hub, said: “pubs are increasingly being recognised as important social hubs for communities, driving local economies and supporting local employment. Many communities are lacking investment so HEINEKEN’s ongoing commitment to revive and refurbish their pubs in order to deliver the services and activities communities need, is very good news for everyone.”

The White Horse in Headcorn, Kent, run by Richard Foy and Steven Manyweathers, re-opened in February 2017 after a £200k refurbishment. Foy said: “Last year, this was a tired village pub serving mostly male customers, with a question mark over its future. Our new kitchen means we now serve better quality food and attract a wider audience – around 40 per cent of our customers are now women. The investment has not only transformed our pub into a local that serves the wider community, it’s also given the community a welcoming social hub, where anyone can come to meet others from the village.”

Graeme Beal, licensee of the Horse & Groom in Linby, Nottingham, whose pub was transformed by a £180k investment in 2016 said: “We listened to what locals wanted and used the refurbishment to make it more appealing for the community. Before, the pub was divided into several small rooms, so we opened these up in order to create a more sociable environment. We have also seen a huge rise in the number of people eating at the pub since the renovation, with food sales more than doubling. Our pub now offers something for everyone, from a weekly quiz to local club meets, and is attracting customers from across the community as a result.”

The Rose & Crown in Heston, West London, run by John Corbett and Natasha Gleeson, re-opened in February 2017 after a £210k refurbishment. Gleeson said: “People of all ages in our community were crying out for a more relaxed and welcoming local. Our new kitchen means we can serve breakfast, freshly baked cakes and we’re booked out every Sunday lunch. Our fresh bean coffee machine, mix of cosy corners and a new bar area means we’ve broadened our appeal, attracting mums in the day and older people for lunch, resulting in a 20 per cent uplift in drinks’ sales.”

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