Licensee research drives star buying club expansion

Star Pubs & Bars is adding six new suppliers to its Buying Club - including health & safety advisors and outdoor specialists - following research amongst 500 licensees into the key opportunities and challenges facing the pub trade.

With one third of licensees highlighting staff recruitment and retention as their biggest issue, Star is introducing Neo Recruitment to the Club.

Increasing footfall emerged as a priority for 25% of licensees questioned. This has led to the addition of audiovisual company TVC UK, to help those looking to maximse trade from the Euros and Olympics. A new partnership with Outdoor experts Woodberry will provide support for the record number of operators wanting to increase trading space by developing their outdoor areas.

Other additions include BOC, card payment providers Paymentsense and health & safety professionals Shield Safety.

When it comes to purchasing support, more than three quarters of licensees (77%) said help with pricing would deliver the biggest benefit to their business. Star Pubs & Bars has used its buying power to negotiate preferential rates and terms from new suppliers with pubs benefiting from discounts of up to 25%. Unusually in the leased and tenanted sector, Star will receive no financial benefit and all savings will be passed directly to licensees.

Launched in October, the Buying Club includes 19 approved suppliers. Since Star began negotiating terms with member suppliers a year ago, it has saved licensees more than £500k on goods and services. Star calculates that the average pub could see annual cost reductions of £7.5k through the Club’s deals.

Buying Director Steve Dancer (pictured) said, “We receive no commercial benefit from the Club; it was created to serve licensees and its expansion is driven by their wishes and needs. The typical pub now has over 50 suppliers. It’s immensely time consuming and complex for operators to select and manage them all.

'Our aim is to lighten that load by identifying tried and tested suppliers that will give them great discounts and terms as well as the reassurance that every contract is managed and overseen by us. We will continue to listen to licensees and expand the Club in line with their feedback.”

Christine O’Brien trialled Neo Recruitment to recruit chefs for The Seaglass Inn at Port Seton following a £425k revamp that introduced food to the pub. O’Brien said, “Positive reviews about the food in the early days following the reopening would be vital to The Seaglass Inn’s future success so it was essential to find a good chef.

'The pub’s village location made it harder to recruit because of the travel involved. We were incredibly busy with the refurbishment and relaunch and it really took the pressure off to have professionals to handle the recruitment process.

'They worked tirelessly to find us an excellent chef and it helped get the business off to a flying start. Support with suppliers is invaluable, it simplifies what is a very busy job as well as cutting costs.”