Heineken, the brewing heavyweight looking to take on hundreds of Punch pubs, said yesterday it was pumping a record £4 million into its Scottish estate this year.
The Dutch-owned beer giant said 17 pubs in the Star Pubs & Bars portfolio would benefit from the investment, which is double the amount it spent in 2016. It adds to the near-£6.5m invested in Scotland in the last three years, Heineken added.
Details of the investment come as the group looks to take on almost 1,900 Punch Taverns pubs across the UK, having struck a deal alongside private equity firm Patron Capital late last year.
However, the takeover swoop has stoked controversy within the industry. Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), said the body had “grave concerns” about the bid, arguing that it would create a “monster-tie” with the Dutch group, which already operates hundreds of British pubs through its Star Pubs & Bars arm.
An investigation into the takeover by the Competition and Markets Authority has been extended into next month.
Heineken’s fresh investment north of the Border will see £2.8m allocated to “transformational projects” with an average spend of £162,000 per pub. This will create more than 150 jobs across the country, it added.
More than a third of the money will be spent on community locals, introducing food and coffee and “transforming them into great local pubs for the whole community to enjoy”.
Lawson Mountstevens, Star Pubs & Bars managing director, said: “We regularly read about pubs closing down, but what people don’t always appreciate is that well-run, invested pubs are thriving.
“Heineken is passionate about creating great pubs and supporting the licensees that run them. Invested pubs attract more customers, are used more often for different occasions throughout the day and encourage people to trade up, creating more profitable and sustainable businesses for licensees.
“Our investment is creating pubs that people want and use, enhancing local communities and benefiting local economies.”
Star Pubs & Bars has 109 sites in Scotland. Two pubs in the Edinburgh area earmarked for investment are the Montague Arms on St Leonard Street and the Malleny Arms in feeder village Balerno.
Heineken said it was looking for entrepreneurs “to take the sites on and develop plans with them”.