DUTCH brewing giant Heineken is planning to pump £1.7 million into its Scottish pubs this year as it seeks to ramp up food sales across its 150-strong estate.
The brewer’s Star Pubs & Bars division, formerly the Scottish & Newcastle Pub Company, has earmarked venues such as Edinburgh’s Royal Oak folk music bar and The Criterion in St Andrews under the first phase of its investment strategy.
Four other bars will be revamped over the next four months as part of an initial £677,000 project, including the Spiders Web on Morrison Street in Edinburgh.
I&G Events, which holds the lease to the Spiders Web, is ploughing £75,000 into the refurbishment, with Star Pubs & Bars providing a further £390,000.
Iain Pert, managing director of I&G Events, said the project was its second with Heineken, having completed the transformation of the former Ale House on Edinburgh’s Clerk Street into a McSorleys bar in December.
Pert, who was previously operations director at Festival Inns and runs I&G with Gordon Gilhooley, said: “We added food and, since reopening, have increased turnover by 30 per cent. Together we’re turning under-performing sites into successful venues that people want to spend time in.”
Star Pubs & Bars, which is also spending £175,000 on revamping the Kinloch bar in Carnoustie, said a quarter of its Scottish estate will benefit from investment this year. The firm is aiming for food to account for 50 per cent of sales by 2020.
Chris Jowsey, trading director at Star Pubs & Bars, said: “Consumers’ expectations are increasing all the time and they are looking for a great experience whenever they go out – the pub’s design, food and drink and service all have to be right.
“This is especially true when customers have less disposable income as they want real quality when they do spend their money.”
Heineken teamed up with Danish rival Carlsberg in 2008 to break up Edinburgh-based S&N, with Carlsberg taking much of its international business and Heineken retaining the UK operations, which include Deuchars IPA maker Caledonian.
The group, which also owns the Amstel, Foster’s and Newcastle Brown Ale brands, last month said annual sales edged up 1.3 per cent to ¤21.3 billion (£17.6bn).