New lease of life for ‘ugly duckling’ Leeds estate pubs

Andy Rickard, of Albion Partnerships, outside The Penny Fun
Andy Rickard, of Albion Partnerships, outside The Penny Fun
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They were dubbed ‘ugly ducklings’ due to their 60s and 70s architecture, but now two Leeds estate pubs are getting a new lease of life thanks to a combined £650,000 investment.

Pub company Star Pubs & Bars is giving a £300,000 makeover to the Penny Fun in Moor Allerton on the back of similar schemes at The Leodis in Halton and The Highfield in Beverley, East Yorkshire, in a move the firm says is creating jobs and attracting new customers.

The Penny Fun''Artists impression

The Penny Fun''Artists impression

Work will start on The Penny Fun this month and the pub will re-open in March. Star also plans to give the same treatment to the Reresby Arms in Thrybergh, Rotherham, later this year.

Chris Jowsey, trading director of Star Pubs & Bars, said: “70s estate pubs can be hidden gems. Whilst often unattractive, they are located in strong communities and have unrealised potential. They need investment to make them more attractive and to offer the quality customers want to ensure they are sustainable in the long term.

“Food and coffee are an increasingly important part of a pub’s appeal which we’re introducing to give people more reasons to visit these pubs.”

Star, the leased pub business of Heineken UK, is working with local pub operator Albion Partnerships on the transformation of The Penny Fun, which is based in the Moor Allerton Centre and described by the firm as one of its “ugly duckling 70s estate pubs”.

The Leodis in Halton after its �350,000 refurbishment

The Leodis in Halton after its �350,000 refurbishment

In 2009, the pub was described in a YEP review as being “a rather plain, squat little building, echoing the lack of architectural charm of the remainder of the Moor Allerton shopping centre”.

Ten jobs will be created as part of the move, and the interior and exterior of the pub will be overhauled to give it a more upmarket feel with a “warm and welcoming décor”.

Food, teas and coffee will be introduced for the first time as part of an effort to appeal to shoppers, women and families.

Andy Rickard of Albion Partnerships said: “This will be our second 70s transformation with Star. It brings The Penny Fun into the 21st century and will appeal to people shopping during the day wanting a comfortable and attractive place to have a great cup of coffee, afternoon tea or some good quality pub food.

“Our other 70s transformation is The Leodis in Halton, which reopened in November following a £350,000 refurbishment with Star. It has been taken more upmarket and is proving a great hit with locals.

“It was on its backside before the facelift and has seen trade double since. Ten new jobs were created on the back of the refurbishment.”

The Highfield in Beverley, formerly known as The Eager Beaver, re-opened in October after a £350,000 refurbishment, giving it a “town centre style with cladded exterior”. Bosses say trade has quadrupled since and 15 jobs have been created.

Sales of food have been so successful that they now account for 50 per cent of turnover and an extension is already needed.

Licensee Paul Miller said: “People who have not been in for 20 years are now in three times a week. We’re even selling plenty of £49 bottles of champagne - not bad for an estate pub.”

Star also plans to give the same treatment to the Reresby Arms in Thrybergh, Rotherham, and is looking for an entrepreneur to take on the lease and take the pub forward.

According to the company, the pub will be given a “new softer exterior to make it more appealing for summer drinking and re-modelled inside to enable it to offer coffee and dining”.