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Last Updated: Friday, 3 March 2006, 09:28 GMT
JD Wetherspoon delays smoking ban
Man stubbing out a cigarette
Many of Wetherspoon's pubs already are smoke free
Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has decided to delay its plans to bring in a complete smoking ban at its pubs in England.

The company, which planned to introduce the measure in May 2006, now will wait until the government's smoking ban takes effect in the middle of 2007.

Of its 650 pubs, 49 already are smoke free, Wetherspoon's said.

The announcement came as Wetherspoon's revealed pre-tax profits for the six months to 22 January up 21% from a year earlier to 27.4m ($47m).

Football effect

While total sales rose 1% to 406.3m, revenues at its non-smoking pubs fell 7.6%, as the outlets sold less beer but more food, the group said.

"It is clear from our experience and from the evidence of other areas, such as Ireland, California and New York, that the initial effect of a smoking ban can result in sales and margin declines," said company chairman Tim Martin.

"However, we believe that sales and margins can recover over time, once customers adjust to the non-smoking environment."

In the shorter-term profit growth may be hampered, and Wetherspoon's said it was taking a cautious view on the second-half of the financial year.

As well as Scotland introducing a smoking ban on 26 March of this year, the company said the football World Cup also would dent earnings.

Wetherspoon's, which until recently did not have televisions in its pubs and even now does not allow the sound to be turned up, expects supporters to head for watering holes with large TVs to watch the matches.


SEE ALSO:
Campaigners welcome smoking ban
15 Feb 06 |  UK Politics
Non-smoking pubs hit Wetherspoon
29 Apr 05 |  Business
Wetherspoon profits in 31% drop
04 Mar 05 |  Business
Wetherspoon pubs to ban smoking
24 Jan 05 |  Business
Wetherspoon sales growth slows
03 Sep 04 |  Business


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