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Star Pubs is investing £4.6m in revamping the outside of its pubs and creating great outdoor spaces in 2024 with 156 pubs set to benefit from the external upgrade programme.

To deliver maximum returns for licensees, Star is taking a strategic approach to its redecoration projects focusing on reflecting and promoting each pub’s internal offer to passersby via its external look and signage. As part of the initiative, all Star’s project teams have been through training in the conscious and subconscious signals that a pub’s exterior communicates. Mural signs and smart heritage colours will be used at premium venues, whilst community locals will have classic swing signs and paintwork in traditional pub colours like burgundy. 70 building makeovers will be carried out, costing on average £38,000 each. These will include new signs, lighting and planting plus additions such as feature entrances and cladding to enhance kerb appeal.

Star’s budget for outside spaces will upgrade gardens at 86 pubs and is concentrated on developing areas that will generate additional trade at least nine months of the year and during wet British summers. In order to accommodate different pub layouts and planning regulations, Star is employing two design approaches at major projects: awning-covered areas opening directly off pubs via bi-fold doors and free-standing heated and lighted pergolas with pitched roofs that are completely separate to the building. Both options are designed to act as extra rooms and can be used for functions and events as well as for alfresco eating and dining. In line with customer demand for superb quality, the spaces will have decorative details such as cushioned seating, festoon lighting and murals. Uncovered parts of the gardens will be filled with picnic benches to maximise trade on dry, warm days.

Says Chris Moore, Property Director for Star Pubs: “A pub’s exterior is just as important as the interior. The outside is like product packaging; it must marry with what customers find inside and encourage potential passing customers to try it. People want a premium experience when they go out. Attractiveness is key – everything has to be on point. Done well a stunning garden will elevate the inside, too, providing good views. Pubgoers have lost none of their enthusiasm for sitting outside since the pandemic, and going to a lovely pub garden with friends is now firmly established as a favourite consumer occasion. Following trials at our managed operator pubs we’re investing in weatherproof structures, and this year’s chilly wet weather underlines the value of doing that.”

Case study: The Winchmore, Winchmore Hill
A £150,000 investment has transformed the garden behind The Winchmore into an eighty-seater area that can be used year-round whatever the weather. Completed in March, it is doubling sales at busy times and increasing trade 20% at weekends. The aluminium-framed structure has double entrance doors off the car park, heating, solid walls for sound insulation and a retractable roof. It is kitted out with a bar, wait station and a range of furniture, including booths and barrel tables. Instagrammable floral decorations, pretty lighting and touches such as blankets add to the atmosphere.

Says licensee Eimear Walsh: “It’s been busy from day one. The space is enabling us to host private parties, screen the Euros and accommodate Sunday lunch customers we’d previously have had to turn away – all incremental trade. It was a boon during the cold rainy spring and early summer, when people wanted to eat and drink alfresco. It’s extended the pub and will boost business year-round including Christmas.”