Britain's largest pub operator Punch Taverns has said it remains confident of managing the move to a totally smoke-free environment next year, predicting it will benefit the industry in the long-run.
Punch said trading at its 493 Scottish pubs since the start of an indoor smoking-ban in March had little effect on its sales.
"While we remain cautious on the initial impact a full year has elapsed, we are confident that overall quality of trading will improve," the company said in its full-year results statement.
Wales has said it will ban smoking in enclosed public places by April of next year if possible. In England the start of a ban is earmarked for summer 2007.
Punch said the introduction of outside smoking areas and better pub amenities, often including a quality food offer could not only negate the ban but lead to new opportunities.
The company, which said it was well advanced in its preparations for England and Wales, has set aside a smoking fund of £18m to support publicans in their preparations.
Punch has more than 9,200 pubs the majority of which (7,846) are leased.
Punch full-year financials for the 52 weeks ended 19 August 2007.
- Turnover up 101% to £1.5b (2005: £770m)
- Earnings before interest, deprecation and amortisation up 47% to £606m (2005: £414m)
- Pre-tax profit up 21% to £250m (2005: £207m)
By Chris Druce
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