Barracuda revamps Varsity bars but cuts estate

By Becky Paskin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Investment

Upgrade: The new-look Varsity bar in Warwick
Upgrade: The new-look Varsity bar in Warwick
Managed pub operator Barracuda has reduced the number of its student-led Varsity bars by 12 to 27 sites across the UK as it focuses on upgrading the estate.

In a response to changing consumer trends and demands, Barracuda has sold four Varsity sites and rebranded eight into the group’s core Smith & Jones concept.

The group has also refurbished 11 of the remaining Varsity sites, including those in Warwick, Durham and York, as part of a £16m update of its core estate over the past 18 months.

The new look Varsity bars feature a Costa coffee offer, Sunday carvery and revamped menu alongside a softer, contemporary design with designer finishes to appeal to young professionals as well as students.

So far 90 bars in the core estate have been upgraded, and Barracuda plans to invest further in another five Varsity bars over the next 12 months.

Mark McQuater, chief executive of Barracuda Group, said: “This fine-tuning of the Varsity portfolio is a reflection of Barracuda moving on its retail brands with the times in continually evolving our estate for today’s customers. We have a number of sites which trade extremely well under the Varsity format.”

Sales increase

The investment in updating the Varsity portfolio has returned a 5.5 per cent increase in like for like sales in the quarter January to March 2011.

“We understand both the student and the student-minded lifestyle and what it takes to make a truly great student venue,” McQuarter added. “We remain committed to the brand in our pub portfolio and will continue to invest in the next generation of this successful format.”

Related topics: Business, Pubs & Bars, Venues

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