Star Pubs & Bars has unveiled ambitious plans to expand its Just Add Talent (JAT) managed operator business, with a goal of reaching 250 pubs by the year 2026. This expansion represents an increase from the current count of 150 pubs, making up approximately 12% of the company's total pub estate of 2,400 establishments. While the core of the company's business will remain focused on leased and tenanted pubs, the JAT pubs will play a significant role in its portfolio.
The decision to grow the JAT model is rooted in strong trading performance and the model's popularity among potential pub operators. Notably, the JAT model holds particular appeal in an environment characterized by high inflation. This is because Star covers energy and overhead expenses—excluding staffing costs—for JAT pubs, offering a level of financial stability to operators. Moreover, unlike many other managed operator schemes, the earning potential for operators within the JAT framework is not capped.
The Just Add Talent estate was originally established by Star Pubs & Bars in 2016. The initiative gained momentum in 2018 when Star took over Punch's Falcon estate pubs and transitioned them into the JAT model. However, the JAT model isn't universally applicable to all pubs in the Star estate; it is best suited for specific types of establishments that can benefit from its centrally directed, locally executed approach.
Part of the JAT model's appeal lies in the comprehensive support it offers to operators. Drawing on insights, Star Pubs & Bars crafts the retail offering at a centralized level, ensuring that the right drinks selection, food menus, and promotional deals are in place. Meanwhile, operators are granted the flexibility to organize their own activities within predefined parameters, such as hosting quizzes, sports events, and entertainment.
Interestingly, the same Business Development Managers responsible for overseeing leased and tenanted pubs also manage the JAT pubs. This strategy enables them to gain a deeper understanding of the retail offering, ultimately enabling them to provide more valuable insights to the leased and tenanted pubs under their purview.
Says Lawson Mountstevens, Star Pubs & Bars Managing Director:
“Our JAT pubs are great sites which have real appeal to operators and local communities. Although JAT pubs currently make up only 6% of the Star estate, 28% of applicants for our pubs are for JAT pubs.
“Our Just Add Talent pubs are a core part of our overall business. The JAT pubs provide an invaluable source of business insight for the wider L&T estate and Heineken. It allows the company to trial new products and evaluate consumer trends. Learnings from JAT estate and JAT supplier deals are rolled out to our leased & tenanted estate.”