Star Pubs & Bars to double managed operator pubs in Scotland

Star Pubs & Bars is to double the size of its Scottish managed operator Just Add Talent (JAT) estate. The company currently has six JAT pubs in Scotland. Subject to recruiting new operators, it will create a further seven managed operator pubs during 2022.

JAT is a low risk, low cost turnover and profit share model. The ingoing cost is £4k compared to at least £10k for a leased and tenanted pub and far more to purchase a free house.

Under the JAT agreement, operators run the business but only fund their and their staff’s costs. Star Pubs & Bars pays for all other expenses including utilities, rates, food, drinks and repairs.

The revenue and profit are shared between both parties with no limit on operators’ earnings. The offer is set by Star and comes with an extensive support package, making the agreement ideal for assistant managers and managers already in hospitality, as well as those outside the sector with business or retail experience.

Whilst the managed operator model is widespread in England and Wales, it is still relatively uncommon in Scotland. Star believes rolling out the model will provide a cheaper and lower risk option for those looking to get their first pub.

Matthew Dyson, Star Pubs & Bars operations director for Scotland, said, “Getting your first pub in Scotland is challenging. There is a significantly lower proportion of leased and tenanted tied pubs1 than in the rest of the UK. Furthermore, almost two thirds of pubs are independently owned.

'Where these are rented out they usually come with no support and, if they’re being sold, the high price puts them out of reach of most people. The growth of the managed operator agreement offers a fantastic opportunity for people in Scotland looking to run their own pub business at a fraction of the cost of other options.”

JAT pubs are quality community pubs with an emphasis on great drinks and entertainment. To enable an outstanding sports screening experience, the new JAT sites will be kitted out with high spec audio-visual equipment. In addition, every pub will have state-of-the-art dispense equipment to ensure consistently perfect draught pints and a quality coffee machine.

The Horse & Barge at Clydebank and The Keg at Inverness will be the first two pubs to move to the JAT model in 2022. The Horse & Bar is scheduled to convert in March, whilst The Keg will change to JAT later in the spring.

Debbie Little (pictured), who took over The Welcome Inn, a JAT pub in Letham, Perth, in September 2019, said, “After 20 years managing pubs around Scotland for other people, I was desperate for a pub of my own but, with a young family to support, I wasn’t in a position to put all my savings into a pub. JAT was the perfect way for me to get my own pub business without laying out a lot of money.

'I knew The Welcome Inn and the area, and felt the JAT offer was right for both. Having a blue print to work to in terms of the pub’s offer was reassuring and enabled me to focus on building trade and my team. The training and personal development I’ve received along the way have been invaluable.

'I’ve now got the skills, grounding and assurance to move to a leased & tenanted pub in the future. I don’t think many people are aware of how easy it is to take a pub on a managed operator agreement. They’re a great way to get on the ladder for those who can’t afford to go it alone or don’t have the confidence to do so.”