Bulmers Gardens activation breathes life into pubs’ outdoor spaces

Bulmers Gardens activation breathes life into pubs’ outdoor spaces

To help lessees make the most of this year’s summer trade, we launched Bulmers Gardens, a £500,000 scheme aimed at revamping 50 pub gardens throughout the UK. Each outlet was kitted out with new garden furniture and other accessories to enhance their outdoor space in time for a seasonal business boost.

The Bulmers project team visited each and every venue, helping lessees tailor the items to suit their space. Adorned with Bulmers-branded benches, solar-powered LED parasols, cushions, blankets, festoon lighting made from recycled Bulmers bottles, sun catchers, condiment-holders and pop-up garden bars, the pubs were ready for business by the first bank holiday weekend in May.

Focus on the task at hand

Kevin Sweeney, general manager at the Park Tavern in Southfields, London, was one of those selected to receive a Bulmers Gardens makeover. Home to one of the best beer gardens in the area, the pub was already preparing to make the most of the forecast heat wave when Kevin received the news.

“We’ve always had a popular garden, but the scheme has given it a big lift,” he explains. “It’s got people talking, and the outside space looks great in photographs for social media too.”

Kevin attributes the scheme’s success to the time, investment and preparation that went into it. “When you decide to do something properly, it’s a lot more effective than an ad hoc, one-size-fits-all approach,” he says. “Because the Bulmers team looked at each site, listened to what we felt would work and employed people to understand our needs, the whole project was a great use of their resources and our time.”

Improve your garden and increase capacity

Mark Connors, who runs the Bowling Green in Southam, Warwickshire, knows how important it is to make an outdoor space inviting during warmer months. “We’ve got a big lawned area at the back of the pub, along with a patio area at the front, so we’ve always made the most of those,” he says.

But Mark also saw room for improvement, and was keen to receive support from the activation. “Bulmers Gardens brought the garden and patio space together; it made everything look brighter, more uniformed and more inviting,” he explains.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but improving your garden will also increase your capacity. “On a sunny Friday night we can probably accommodate 150 customers inside, 60 to 80 in the back garden and another 30 on the patio, so making the most of our outdoor space almost doubles our trading area,” Mark explains.

Staff your garden as you would indoors 

Another lessee to benefit from Bulmers Gardens is Mike Reeve, who opened the Plough in Chorley, Lancashire, in March, following a full refurbishment. Like Mark and Kevin, Mike has been impressed with the scheme.

“When we reopened in March, the beer garden was overgrown and frankly a bit of a mess,” he explains. “We were always going to do something with it, but then Bulmers came on board. It’s been a massive investment from the brand. We now have a smart, tidy beer garden that’s bright, colourful and full of quality products – it really has added a huge dining area.”

Now the garden is complete, Mike is committed to giving those seated outside exactly the same level of service as in the rest of the pub. “I just treat the garden how I treat the inside,” he explains. “When that sun hits, we put an extra chef on in the kitchen and someone else to wait on tables outside to make sure we maintain a high level of service throughout.”

For Bulmers, and for Star Pubs, the table is always at the heart of things – the serve, the glass and ice, the ritual. And Bulmers Gardens has ensured that lessees are equipped to send this message all summer long.