Edinburgh-based Star Pubs & Bars extends support for sites in Scotland

Edinburgh-based Star Pubs & Bars has extended its rent reductions for its 240 tied, leased and tenanted pubs in Scotland, as the sector eyes a “cautious” re-opening when lockdown measures are eased.

Glasgow bar and restaurant Ardnamurchan is one of the beneficiaries. Picture: Phil Wilkinson.

The company, which is part of Heineken in the UK, noted that it has already cancelled a significant proportion of rent for licensees. Since 20 March, its tied pubs north of the Border have received rent concessions of 50 per cent to 90 per cent on a pub-by-pub basis and payments have been deferred until pubs reopen.

The group said that to support its pubs to be in the best possible position for reopening, its licensees will continue to receive the same level of those individual rent reductions in July and August. Star said this further commitment means that more than £2 million will have been invested into its Scottish pub estate since lockdown in March as part of a £21m UK-wide rent reduction package.

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It added that this support has been complemented by measures including a commitment to give pubs fresh stock when they re-open. Plans to reopen successfully include access to Swifty, a new payment and loyalty app that enables consumers to order from their table.

Star is working on clear signage and point of sale to help maintain a safe environment and will support licensees to implement government guidelines on safe practices once they have been published.

Call for support

Heineken UK also stressed its work with trade associations on making the case to government that further support for the sector is needed until pubs can reopen and trade at a sustainable level.

Lawson Mountstevens, MD of Star Pubs & Bars, said that throughout the crisis, the company has worked with each of its pubs individually to provide support.

“Our business is built on strong partnerships with licensees, and we want to do everything we can to help make sure that their pubs are sustainable long term. The cancellation of more than 50 per cent of rent in Scotland has been central to our support. We hope that the extension of rent concessions provides a degree of certainty to pubs, as we turn our collective focus on the complex task of reopening.

“Once restrictions are lifted, we want to see all of our pubs open, trading and operating as viable businesses as soon as possible. With lockdown measures starting to be eased, it’s important that we take a lead in making sure every pub has enhanced health and safety measures to ensure people feel safe when they revisit their local.”

Neil Douglas of Ardnamurchan, a bar and restaurant on Hope Street in Glasgow, and Basils, a bar on Annfield Road in Edinburgh, said: “It was really helpful to have the reassurance of rent reductions early on, it meant we could confidently plan for reopening.

“In our experience, many private landlords aren’t offering any help with rent or repayment schedules and it makes life extremely difficult. We’ve taken the opportunity to completely redecorate Ardnamurchan during the lockdown and put in place measures so customers can comfortably and easily socially distance. The staff are fully trained in the new systems, and we’ll be ready when the go-ahead to reopen comes. We can’t wait to welcome customers back.”

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