Pub giant Punch Taverns has said that it remains confident of mitigating any negative effects of next year's smoking ban in England, after its experiences in Scotland.
In a trading statement today, Punch chief executive Giles Thorley said the company continued to prepare for the ban, anticipated summer 2007.
"We have learned valuable lessons through our first hand experience of consumers' reaction to the introduction of the Scottish smoking ban. Whilst it is too early to draw any firm conclusions from its impact, we are confident that we will be optimally placed to offset any effect of this change in legislation," he said.
At the end of the financial year on 19 August, Punch had 7,486 leased and tenanted pubs in its estate and 1,410 managed pubs from the purchase of Spirit group in January of this year.
In its leased business Punch said average pub turnover was up 2.7% year-on-year with like-for-like turnover growth of 1%.
Punch is due to report its full-year results 9 November.
By Chris Druce