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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 10:49 GMT
Pub firm rides out smoke impact
Two women smoke outside a pub in Glasgow
Smokers have had to change their habits in Scotland
Pub firm Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) says early signs point to the impending smoking ban in England and Wales having only a limited impact on its business.

The firm has changed 200 pubs into non-smoking outlets ahead of the ban on smoking in enclosed space next year.

Sales growth at these outlets was only 1% lower over the past year than pubs where smoking is still permitted.

Like-for-like sales at the firm's Scottish pubs - where smoking is already outlawed - have risen 1%.

Winter wait

Despite dire early warnings about the impact of the smoking ban on the pub trade, many pub firms now seem upbeat about the likely results.

A full winter's trading is required before taking a definitive view on the ban's effect
Mitchells & Butlers statement

M&B, which operates 2,000 UK pubs, said the results so far in Scotland indicated that larger pubs able to serve high-quality food would benefit.

But smaller outfits with a bias towards beer sales could suffer.

Over the past seven weeks, food sales at the firm's 80 Scottish pubs have risen 7%, while drink sales have fallen 2%.

"Sales growth has slowed as the autumn has drawn in and we continue to believe that a full winter's trading is required before taking a definitive view on the ban's effect," the firm said in a statement.

Overall, M&B reported a 4.1% rise in like-for-like sales over the past year as the firm benefited from a hot summer.

Pre-tax profits in the year to the end of September rose 10% to 208m, while total sales increased 5.5% to 1.7bn.


SEE ALSO
S&N warns of smoking ban effects
07 Nov 06 |  Business
Smoke-free pubs boost Wetherspoon
02 Nov 06 |  Business
M&B bounces back after World Cup
26 Sep 06 |  Business

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