Star Pubs & Bars has announced that it is to invest £250,000 in food support for its licensees over the next year.

The company said the pledge would build on the success of its Star Food programme, which saw the dry sales mix of food sold in Star pubs increase by 6% (according to MCA’s Tenant Track). In all, 74% of Star pubs now sell food – the highest percentage of any national leased pub operator.

The commitment was made at the launch of the second year of Star Food, a two-day food event designed to upskill the company’s BDMs and management team in food development.

As well as promising to continue with existing food training for pub staff and chefs, Star said further initiatives in this area, such as kitchen staff recruitment support, would be introduced over the next year helping to tackle the industry shortage.

The Star Food event also saw the launch of special pricing agreements for Star licensees with four national food suppliers (Russell Hume butchers, Direct Seafood, Nisbets for consumables and Brakes for frozen and ambient grocery)and a modern back bar food support guide for kitchenless pubs and those with kitchens that close at quieter times of day.

Star said the new back bar food support guide addresses the premiumisation of the eating out sector. It encourages licensees to move away from lower quality microwaved pizzas, burgers and pies to more gourmet snacks and dishes using fresh ingredients from olive and crisp boards to cheese boards and ploughmans with a contemporary twist. The guide includes all angles of selling food without a kitchen from equipment to presentation as well as sixty new menu ideas.

Lawson Mountstevens, managing director Star Pubs & Bars, said: “We’re focused on long term sustainable leased pub businesses and having multiple income streams such as food is key. We want to give our licensees the very best support in this area. Our package now spans fully funded residential cookery courses for licensees and staff workshops to financing kitchen fixtures and fittings. We’re continuing to up skill our BDMs so they can provide expertise in this specialist area and using outside chef consultants to give licensees the very best advice.”