Wetherspoon chief shrugs off long-term effect of England smoking ban

06 November 2007 by
Wetherspoon chief shrugs off long-term effect of England smoking ban

JD Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson predicted a return to buoyant sales in six to seven months, after admitting a dip in bar sales following the start of England's smoking ban this July.

The company revealed today that like-for-like sales for the 13 weeks ending 28 October fell 1% despite a 1.4% increase in food sales during the period.

Hutson told Caterersearch: "We are only 17 weeks into the ban and what people are trying to base their predictions on is what happened in Scotland."

Although we only have 39 pubs in Scotland, compared to over 600 in England and Wales, our experience in Scotland after six or seven months is that sales started to turn around following a similar pattern of a dip."

Hutson believed that the UK would out-perform areas where smoking bans had been implemented, including New York and Ireland, with sales turning around far sooner in comparison.

"There were 20% to 30% sales declines after a month of the ban in New York and after a year sales were down 10%. If you said to me four or five years ago I would have seen a sales decline of 1% I would have taken it," said Hutson. "The ban is very good for us and is very good for the industry."

The 671-strong chain delivered record year-end results in September with a 5% increase in turnover to £888.5m. Like-for-like sales for the whole year were up by 5.6%.

John Hutson profile >>

Smoking ban fails to dent JD Wetherspoon's profits >>
JD Wetherspoon's John Hutson welcomes smoking ban >>
Smoking ban round up >>

Smoking ban still a big hit with public >>

By Christopher Walton

E-mail your comments to Christopher Walton](mailto:Christopher.Walton@rbi.co.uk?subject=Wetherspoon chief shrugs off long-term effect of England smoking ban) here.

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