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JD Wetherspoon full-year profits to be below expectations.

09 May 2007 by

Pub operator JD Wetherspoon has warned that preparations for the smoking ban in England will lead to its full-year profits being "marginally below" expectations.

Although like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks ended 29 April increased 3.4% year-on-year and were up 6.1% for the first three-quarters, the temporary closure of pubs to fit bespoke beer-chilling equipment and to carry out refurbishment ahead of the ban, combined with rising energy and staff costs, appears to have cancelled these gains out.

John Hutson, chief executive of Wetherspoon's, said: "The scale of these initiatives will result in a short-term impact on profitability and the full year profits outcome is expected to be marginally below current market expectations."

Hutson also said the company had increased non-smoking areas to 80% of customer space since January, which had resulted in strong growth in food sales.

Wetherspoon's 39 Scottish pubs were said to be continuing to perform well after the country's adoption of a smoking ban there last year as were its 34 Welsh pubs, which went smoke free last month.

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E-mail your comments to Christopher Walton](mailto:christopher.walton@rbi.co.uk?subject=Wetherspoon warns on profits) here.

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