The boss of London pub company Young's has called on the Government to stop procrastinating over a start date for the smoking ban.
Chief executive Stephen Goodyear said the delay in naming a kick off date for England was frustrating and "confusing to the customer".
Young's, which has more than 220 leased and managed pubs, has earmarked more than £4m to create outside areas for its boozers, and recently reopened the Dukes Head in Putney as its third non-smoking pub.
"It is our view this change is better done sooner than later," said Goodyear, who expects the start date to be July 2007.
A busy half-year for Young's saw its estate revalued at £399m, an uplift of £174m on previous book value, and the launch the Wells and Young's Brewing Company in October.
Goodyear, who has declared an 18p dividend for shareholders (50% higher than last year), said the company was setting its sites on growing its brewing and pub retail businesses, and would add additional sites if complimentary.
In the 26 weeks to 30 September the company acquired 14 new pubs, and also completed the sale of its Wandsworth brewery site for £69m.
Like-for-like managed house turnover was 11.2% higher in the period, and food sales grew 27.2% year-on-year in managed houses accounting for 22% of total sales.
Turnover was up 10.6% to £69.1m. Pre-tax profit was 885.5% higher at £42.7m than in 2005. Stripping out the gain form the brewery site sale, pre-tax profit was 4.8% up at £5.8m.
By Chris Druce