JD Wetherspoon's John Hutson welcomes smoking ban
The chief executive of pub operator JD Wetherspoon has reiterated his belief that smoking bans in Wales and England will be a success for the trade.
Wetherspoon has 40 pubs in Wales, which on 2 April will be next in the UK to introduce a complete ban on smoking in enclosed places, and John Hutson is confident that lessons learnt from existing non-smoking units will be valuable.
Speaking at the company's half-year results presentation last week, he said: "Our experience is, it takes pubs that have gone non-smoking a year to two years to recover. But I believe the bans will benefit the pub industry in the long term."
In Scotland, food sales have climbed 3% to contribute 33% of Wetherspoon's total turnover since the start of the smoking ban there a year ago, but with food remaining less profitable than drink, profits have come under pressure.
This has led Wetherspoon, which reported a 20% rise in pre-tax profit for the half year to 28 January, to focus on training to improve staff efficiency, marketing changes and heavy investment in kitchen facilities.
As the Welsh Assembly launched an initiative to reinforce the start of the ban, entitled "Time's up for second-hand smoke", a survey of 100 Welsh pubs by BBC Radio Cymru found almost a third felt unprepared for the new law.