Star Pubs & Bars is to invest over £250,000 in food support for its licensees in the next 12 months as part of a move to empower its kitchens that also involves a supply agreement with Nisbets, FEJ can reveal.
The pub chain is looking to lead the way in food support in the leased sector and believes the investment is a significant statement of its seriousness to help tenants grow food sales.
The commitment was made at the launch of the second year of its Star Food programme, a two-day food event designed to upskill the company’s business development managers and management team in food development.
The announcement builds on the success of ‘Star Food’, which saw the dry sales mix of food sold in Star pubs increase by 6% in the programme’s first year. 74% of Star pubs now sell food the highest percentage of any national leased pub operator, according to figures from Tenant Track.
As well as promising to continue with existing food training for pub staff and chefs, Star said further initiatives in this area, such as kitchen staff recruitment support, would be introduced over the next year helping to tackle the industry shortage.
The Star Food event also saw the launch of special pricing agreements for Star licensees with four national food suppliers and a modern back bar food support guide for kitchenless pubs and those with kitchens that close at quieter times of day.
The supplier agreements were created in response to licensee requests for help on pricing and are designed to enable licensees to sell food at a competitive RSP while retaining healthy profits. Negotiated using owner Heineken’s buying power, all of the savings go direct to licensees.
National suppliers have been appointed in four areas to ensure quality as well as keen prices, with Nisbets named as its partner for consumables.
The new back bar food support guide addresses the premiumisation of the eating out sector. It encourages licensees to move away from lower quality microwaved pizzas, burgers and pies to more gourmet snacks and dishes using fresh ingredients from olive and crisp boards to cheese boards and ploughmans with a contemporary twist.
The guide includes all angles of selling food without a kitchen from equipment to presentation as well as 60 new menu ideas.
Lawson Mountstevens, managing director of Star Pubs & Bars, said: “We’re focused on long-term sustainable leased pub businesses and having multiple income streams such as food is key. We want to give our licensees the very best support in this area. Our package now spans fully funded residential cookery courses for licensees and staff workshops to financing kitchen fixtures and fittings. We’re continuing to upskill our BDMs so they can provide expertise in this specialist area and using outside chef consultants to give licensees the very best advice.”