Case Study James Nisbet, The Kilderkin, Edinburgh

Case Study James Nisbet, The Kilderkin, Edinburgh

Located on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, The Kilderkin is a popular pub with tourists, local businesses and residents from across the city as well as with MSPs and staff from all political parties who often pop in from the nearby Scottish Parliament. When James Nisbet took on the lease in 2011 this was far from the case. Known then as Jenny Ha’s it was James’s and his wife Jacqui’s second Star lease. At the time, the pub had a poor reputation, attracting a rough crowd, but James could see its potential.

“We had no money to buy a pub, and having worked for someone who’d leased a pub I knew leasing a pub could be very profitable for minimal financial input. We were able to take on The Windsor and The Kilderkin for under £20k each including fixtures and fittings.” James immediately changed the pub’s name, took out the TVs, juke box and pool tables and started introducing more diverse, premium drinks and improving the quality and availability of food. Fresh food is now served from midday with pizzas in the evening including exotic crocodile, rabbit and zebra and buffalo meat options. A fan of rum, James set up the Edinburgh Rum Club, instigated weekly whisky tasting events, cocktail nights and acoustic music sessions. Monday night’s £1 pizza offer with any drink (soft or alcoholic) and Tuesday’s quiz attract people from across Edinburgh. Since James took on the Kilderkin trade has gone from £2k a week to £20k a week during the festival with food accounting for 40% of turnover.

James says: “The local community are delighted. They said it used to look scary but is really nice. They bring in their children now. This has been helped by the refurbishment we did with Star last year. The new signage and paintwork is funkier than before and reflects what’s happening inside. It has resulted in amassive 35% increase in trade.” For James, it hasn’t just been Star’s investment that has made a difference, it is its flexibility. “Star is a very good company to work with. I’ve never had any problems especially compared to other companies where everything is a fight. They’ve allowed us to go free of tie on a keg and a couple of cask ales. We can buy a weekly mixed FOT case of bottled beer, which creates interest in the fridge alongside Heineken owned products. Caledonian is also doing some interesting beers, such as Maltsmiths and Lagunitas. Star is on our side. They’re there to help us make money. If we make money they make money.”