South England community pub operator Pub ‘n' Bars is the latest operator to announce it will ditch food to keep smoking.
The company, which has 65 managed and tenanted pubs, said that because its sites offered only limited menus it would be well placed to minimise the impact on sales when the ban is introduced.
At present the Government plans to introduce a smoking ban in all enclosed public places by the end of 2008, but is set to exclude pubs that don't serve hot food.
Recent research on behalf of pressure groups Action on Smoking and Health and Cancer Research found thousands of pubs would probably ditch their current marginal food businesses to hang on to high-spending smokers.
Turnover at the 64-strong pub group was flat at £7m in the year to 30 June, and pre-tax profit fell 10.5% from £530,822 in 2004 to £486,246.
The fall in performance was blamed, in part, on the exceptional positive contribution made by the European football championship in 2004, although the company said the second half of the year was traditionally stronger.
Pubs ‘n' Bars continued to manage 31 pubs for Community Taverns during the period and said it is seeking more such opportunities.
By Chris Druce
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