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Heineken has said it is pumping £38 million of investment into its UK pub and bar business, in a move set to create 500 jobs.
It comes as the group seeks to accelerate the recovery of its venues after being hit heavily by enforced closures at the start of the year and throughout large parts of 2020 due to the pandemic.
The firm said almost 80 pubs will receive “major makeovers” costing up to £400,000 each as part of the programme.
Investment is being particularly directed towards creating premium sites in suburban and high street locations within a 10-minute walk from residential areas as people spend more time at home due to shifts in working habits.
Lawson Mountstevens, managing director of Star, said: “Many people have rediscovered the joy of their neighbourhood pub between lockdowns over the last year, and are opting to stay local.
“This investment responds to that demand, giving communities quality pubs on their doorsteps.
“The pandemic has shown the resilience of the great British pub and especially the leased and tenanted model.
“We’re committed to building on that support with refurbishments, so that pubs around the country thrive for the long-term.”
Mr Mountstevens added that the firm has spent £62 million on rent cuts to keep its pubs afloat throughout lockdown periods.
Heineken said the investment plan has included £165,000 of improvements at Ye Olde Hob Inn in Bamber Bridge, Lancashire, renovating the exterior and redecorating the interior of the 17th century pub.
Licensee Sarah Locke said: “People love the new look, and it’s bringing in all ages. Local residents who hadn’t been in for years, if ever, are now regulars, plus we’re attracting a lot more drive-by customers.
“We saw the impact of the refurbishment immediately.
“Sales trebled overnight when we reopened and have stayed at that level despite a lot of local competition, Covid restrictions and the overall impact of the pandemic, which we really felt in this area.”