British pubs are not what they were. You can quite easily pop down your local boozer these days and find your Old Red Lion has been transformed into a Rat & Parrot, leaving you either Firkin Annoyed, or over The Moon Under Water. But these ever-more-common revamps - which attract more women and a higher-spending, younger crowd - have helped the industry to grow steadily over recent years. Last year it was worth around pounds 23bn. A couple of years ago, the Irish theme was all the rage among the highly competitive high-street chains, but it seems we have now had all the Irish theme pubs we can stomach. The sparse and bright Pitcher & Piano alternative also seems to have lost some of its shine. But there is one trend which punters have definitely not called last orders on yet: the superpub. Pop down to your former local gas showroom (or bank, or cinema) and you might find it selling its wares in pint glasses. And more often than not it will be owned by superpub supremos JD Wetherspoon, and will be at least 7,000sq ft. "Its pubs just get bigger and bigger," says Mike Bennett, industry editor on trade paper the Licensee & Morning Advertiser. "You almost expect it to take over the Vatican next." The following figures are the cost of refurbishment of JD Wetherspoon's latest grand project, the transformation of what was once an electricity showroom into The Monk's Retreat. The name and themed interior refers back to the area's former Benedictine Abbey, which ceased to exist with the dissolution of the monasteries. A rather different type of dissolution is now on offer.
Building preparation Architect's fees, pounds 8,000; knocking out old booths and fixtures, pounds 4,600
Painting and decorating Light blue exterior, pink and cream interior, pounds 19,900; pictures, signs, themed menu blackboards and life-sized model of a monk suspended from the ceiling, pounds 10,000
Furniture and fittings New chairs and tables re-upholstering in draylon, pounds 4,600; new floral entrance carpet, pounds 1,250; joinery and carpentry including cream-painted booths with art deco-style windows, and sideboards and cabinets, pounds 11,100; grey-brown marble bar top and marble-clad pillars, pounds 2,700; Victorian- style light fittings and concealed spotlights, pounds 2,900; tiles, pounds 100
Rewiring and plumbing throughout pounds 4,900
Total pounds 70,050