Star Pubs & Bars expects to grow the number of operators on its Just Add Talent (JAT) programme by 50% before the end of the year – as it explores ways to make its kitchens more energy efficient in the face of rising costs.
The Star estate is broadly leasehold but it has a growing managed operator arm with a centralised food offer, which is branded as JAT. It allows individuals to kick-start a pub business at a fraction of the start-up cost of taking on a leased or freehold premises, providing them with support in a variety of areas, including food.
“There are over 100 of those and we plan to have 150 by the end of 2019,” revealed Mark Teed, Star’s food strategy and implementation manager. “The majority are converted from our leased and tenanted estate — so we haven’t acquired them and they are not new-builds, they are all conversions. There is criteria involved in making sure they fit the model. It is a centralised offer so it is an offer that we dictate using all of our learnings.”
Of the 50 or so sites that will join the programme by the end of the year, a good chunk are likely to already have kitchen facilities in place but they will require considerable alteration to enable them to deliver the proposition.
“What’s interesting is that because we know what the offer is, we know what kitchen template is needed to deliver it,” says Teed of the merits of the centralised model.
One of the big focuses for him and the whole pub estate at the moment is energy efficiency. “What’s crucial is that our licensees pay the ongoing energy costs so if we can make their business more cost-effective and sustainable that is great. It is a challenge getting the same speed and quality while reducing energy consumption, but there are clearly manufacturers out there that are leading the way on this. It is definitely something we want to incorporate in our kitchen equipment spec going forward.”
Teed thinks induction could begin to play a big part from my perspective going forward. Star doesn’t have any induction specified in the estate at present but he remains open to the idea.
“If I look at my priorities over the last year, bringing induction into the estate hasn’t been high on my agenda but now we can start to grow and build.”
Cost inflation around labour and energy are influencing his thoughts on equipment specification right now, and he foresees Star trialling more kit in future for benchmarking purposes. “They are massive costs for us and when we look at new pieces of equipment it is trying to negate those two costs.”
The full interview with Mark Teed can be read in the August print edition of FEJ. To receive your free subscription of FEJ click HERE.