Brewing giant Heineken will reopen 62 pubs that were closed in recent years and invest £39m in refurbishing hundreds of sites across the UK.

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Staff member
Mar 17, 2013
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Ulverston Cumbria.
Great news but with pubs still closing daily how do they expect to make a profit.


The company said the cash injection into its Star Pubs & Bars chain will create more than 1,000 new jobs.

The UK pubs industry has been hard hit by closures both during the Covid pandemic and afterwards as cost of living pressures weighed on consumer spending.

Between 2021 and 2023, pubs have shut at a rate of 500 a year, according to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

Star plans to renovate more than 600 pubs - around a quarter of the 2,400-strong chain - choosing locations it said reflect how many of its customers have cut back on how often they commute into city centres.

Heineken said: "With working from home more commonplace and people looking to save on travel, major refurbishments will concentrate on transforming tired pubs in suburban areas into premium locals."

The company said that by the end of this year, the UK operation will have reopened 156 pubs since the start of 2023, "reducing the number of closed pubs in its estate to pre-pandemic levels".

During Covid, pubs were forced to close to prevent the spread of the virus. When they were allowed to reopen, they faced a number of restrictions including mandatory table service, limits on the size of groups and a 10pm curfew.

In early 2021, Heineken announced it would cut 8,000 jobs globally. The following year it warned inflation - which measures the pace of price rises - was "off the charts", in particular on commodities such as barley and aluminium.

This was before Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022 which lifted the cost of energy, fuel and grains.

The average price of a pint of draught lager reached £4.71 in March, according to the Office for National Statistics, compared to £3.76 in February 2020 before widespread pandemic lockdowns the following month.

Meanwhile, the number of pubs in the UK has fallen from 47,200 in 2019, before Covid, to 45,350 in 2023, data from the BBPA shows. However, pub numbers have been declining for some time, A decade ago there were 52,500 in operation which is 7,150 more than 2023.

Some of the pubs that Heineken is re-opening have been shut for more than four years, others have been closed for 12 months.

The Ship in Worsbrough, Barnsley closed its doors four-and-a-half years ago and lay dormant until it was refurbished at a cost of £370,000 and reopened in February 2024.

The Ashford Arms in Derbyshire, which Star Pubs described as "a Covid casualty", was shut in March 2020 but reopened after joint £1.6m refurbishment by the company and Longbow Venues, an independent hospitality business in the Peak District.

The Coach & Horses in Carlisle was shuttered for a year and, according to Star Pubs, "had a poor reputation and few customers".
“People avoided the pub for years," according to its licensee Susan Graham. It has since been revamped at a cost of £300,000. "[Customers'] chins hit the floor when they saw the change," she said.
Heineken hopes the revamp of its pubs will tempt drinkers and diners back, including using "subtle zoning" to allow customers to enjoy different activities like watching sports and dining "without disturbing each other".
It said it will use dividing screens and distinct changes to lighting, sound systems and furniture styles to "help delineate the zones".
The announcement by Heineken is the latest indication that the British pub industry is seeing signs of growth after major blows from the pandemic and the cost of living crisis.
Last week, major pub chain Greene King said it would open its new £40m brewery by 2027.
Greene King, known for brands such as Abbot Ale, Greene King IPA and Old Speckled Hen, said the move represented a "long-term commitment to British brewing".
The 225-year-old company, which was sold to Hong Kong operator CKA in 2019, owns about 2,700 pubs, restaurants and hotels in the UK.
Spain’s Damm recently announced it will invest £50m in a new brewery in Bedford. It bought the site in 2022 from Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said the plans are "a demonstration of the confidence to invest in Britain’s beer and pub sector which will help generate much-needed growth in local economies across the UK".
She added: "This could be turbo-charged with a longer-term and more supportive fiscal and regulatory framework that this and the next government needs to put in place to unlock further growth and investment opportunities.”
In the Budget in March, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that a freeze on alcohol duty would continue until February 2025. It had been set to end in August.
He also extended a 75% discount to business rates for retail, hospitality and leisure firms until 2025. It is worth up to £110,000 per business.
Some of the sites that Star Pubs & Bars, owned by Heineken, is reopening this year include:
  • The Black Bull in Ecclesfield, Sheffield
  • The Hesketh Tavern in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport
  • The Junction in Wombwell, South Yorkshire
  • The Manvers Arms in Radcliffe on Trent, Nottinghamshire
  • The Punch Bowl in West Hallam, Derbyshire
  • The Rose of Denmark in Bristol
  • Roxy’s Steak & Tap in Twickenham
  • The Talbot in Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire
  • The Wildmoor Oak near Bromsgrove
  • The Winterton Arms in Chiddingfold, Surrey
Star do pretty major refurbs, generally more "gastro" than Spoons. So upgrading/adding kitchens, more dining space, maybe opening up separate rooms, generally tarting things up.

But the whole reason why Heineken owns pubs through Star is to sell more Heineken/Fosters/Moretti....

It does mean they can be more flexible about going free of tie on cask lines than some of the non-brewing pubcos though.
The only chain I rate thesedays apart from JDW (as you can get some good craft cans, punk ,leffe , erdinger etc) would be the head of steam. brewdog used to be awesomely great but are very hit and miss thesedays although you can usually get a vault city there for £6,000,000.

Marsdons reasonable food 💩 beer.

Nicholson's not as good a range of beer as I remember altough they still do maisels weiss and reasonable food.

Green king - best forgotten last time I went in I asked for a pale and ended up with a lager I ask him to check the lines were correct! - He assured me they were.

Fullers - not really been recently as whenever i've been anywhere with a fullers there's always been a real craft brewpub in the area to visit instead.
+1 on the JDW. They're nowhere near as great as they used to be.
Years ago, our one in Milton Keynes had a micro-brewery next door and they'd have at least 5 of their beers on tap (in a separate area).

Speaking to the head brewer at my local micro, he was saying that the money they offered per keg (or keykeg) was absolutely pitiful. They'd literally be losing money.

As for the others, meh. I particularly enjoy avoiding Whitbread now they have their blanket "no dogs" policy. Here in the New Forest, they have no pubs. Which is just as well, because all pubs here have to accept dogs in the bar, as it's mostly holiday makers. The restaurant part of the pub is of course dog free for those who don't want to share with our 4 legged friends (as is their right).

Chatting to someone else yesterday, who owns a brewery, he said he wouldn't trust Heineken in any way.
Beer is a marketing business...and marketing works...just needs the backing and will to move and innovate and people will come flocking. These big brew companies are not going to stand by and see their route to market dry up. They're only a few clever TV adds away from people coming flocking back to pubs. Maybe get Melanie Sykes out of retirment?
Most of the pubs around here are Star. They are too greedy I've heard the area manager say in the pub people are stupid and will pay what he wants them to pay.

So I don't go any more just to make him wrong. The local is empty these days after reopening with cheaper prices then ramming them up at the first opportunity.