Marston's to spend £20m on outside smoking areas
Pub operator Marston's will have splashed out £20m on its pubs' outside areas by the start of the smoking bans this year in England and Wales.
The majority of the group's large outlay - around 90% - has been spent on its pub gardens and patios.
Despite Marston's bullish assessment of the forthcoming smoking ban, not everyone in the City was convinced with Simon French, an analyst at Numis Securities voicing concern.
"We think Marston's should trade at a discount to the other pubcos as the brewing division market position is under threat from Wells & Young's, and the group has limited expertise of operating in a non-smoking environment as it has no Scottish pubs," he said.
Last week, the company announced the acquisition of South England rival Eldridge Pope for more than £155m.
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By Chris Druce
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