Domecq puts 30m into Firkin revamp

Allied Domecq Inns is spending an estimated 30m on its most important pub brand, Firkin, in an attempt to ditch the chain’s image as a laddish, student hang-out.

The revamp is an aggressive response to falling sales. Last month Allied Domecq lost more than 850m from its market value after warning that sales in its pubs were down by 2.5 percent.

The drive to push the 20-year-old brand upmarket is the result of lengthy research, and will be backed by a new campaign. It comes after rapid expansion of the original niche brand in the mid-Nineties, which saw the Firkin pubs grow into a national chain.

All 186 Firkin sites around Great Britain are to be systematically improved starting with a new Festival & Firkin that opened in Cheltenham last week.

Andrew Walder, marketing director of Allied Domecq Inns, says: “Firkin has lost its way as a brand. It has got very laddish and boorish. We want to reposition it as a more intelligent, non-conformist brand.”

The new pubs will be more female-friendly and feature sophisticated ranges of food, wine and beer. The interiors will be brighter and cleaner, with sofas, small tables and rugs replacing large tables and stark wooden floors. Firkin’s brewing arm will also be repositioned.

Allied Domecq will not say what it is spending on the project, although analysts estimate it could be over 30m by 2001.

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