South Yorkshire pub group aims for 10 sites

Simon Woodcock and Richard Hepplestone have taken the lease on their sixth pub.

South Yorkshire pub operators Simon Woodcock and Richard Hepplestone have taken the lease on their sixth pub, as they look to build an estate of 10 sites in the region.

The Black Bull in Ecclesfield is the duo’s second venture with Star Pubs. Closed for more than a year, it will reopen at the end of July following a £198,000 investment by Star. 

Woodcock (above right) and Hepplestone’s (above left) business model is focused on community locals specialising in sports and entertainment, and The Black Bull will follow suit.

The refurbishment will transform The Black Bull into a family-friendly local with a new garden, dedicated games room and varied entertainment programme.

What's being added?

The overhaul will renovate the outside of the pub and develop a 40-seater sheltered courtyard garden with a big screen for watching sports.

The internal revamp will upgrade The Black Bull with a new look that is sympathetic to the traditional old stone pub, but incorporates contemporary design touches. To cater for the whole community, the pub will have three distinct zones – a carpeted lounge, a bar and a games areas, which will be kitted out with a pool table, darts and screens showing Sky Racing, Racing TV and Sky Sports and TNT Sports. 

"We prefer the community to the town centre market," says Hepplestone. "Overheads like business rates are lower; there’s less competition from managed chains with deep pockets, and if you invest time in getting to know your customers, you can build up a loyal following of regulars." 

"Simon and Richard have a real expertise in community locals in South Yorkshire," adds Lorna Willoughby, investment manager for Star Pubs in Yorkshire. "They’re passionate about developing great pubs and are ideal operators for The Black Bull. The Ecclesfield pub scene struggled post the pandemic but is now seeing a resurgence, and we’re pleased to be able to play our part in that."

Star’s investment at The Black Bull is part of its £39m programme to upgrade its pubs in 2024. 

You may also be interested in…