Star Pubs and Bars has appointed Paul Hunter as its first dedicated soft drinks buyer as the group works to boost its soft drinks category support.
To take advantage of the growing popularity of soft drinks, the group is also making Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) its official category partner, installing new dispense equipment in its pubs and providing licensees with promotional materials.
Hunter was previously Greene King’s category manager for soft drinks and spirits, and will be undertaking a review of the category in order to create a “market leading consumer offer”.
In line with market trends, the new range will include a greater emphasis on premium mixers like Schweppes 1783 salty lemon and cucumber tonics, low/no sugar and healthier options, and drinks from smaller craft producers.
With draught products accounting for over 50% of soft drinks sales and growing, Star Pubs and Bars is rolling out the installation of new equipment and increasing choice.
The company is working closely with brands across the category to provide business building insight and advice to licensees. Promotional materials such as ice buckets, menu cards and glassware and low/no sugar point-of-sale materials will also be available to licensees.
Hunter said: “Soft drinks are a hugely important to licensees nowadays with the growth in family dining and one in five adults now teetotal. Consumers are looking for better experiences and higher quality drinks as well as low/no sugar options.
“A good range is always about consumer-focus and balance, having products from smaller craft to leading brands. Our strategy is to offer licensees the right brands for their style of pub and to provide market insight on how to make a soft drinks offer exciting and engaging.”
He added: “It’s not just about the drinks available, it’s about the serve. With the right glass and right garnish, a soft drink becomes a premium product.”