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Punch Taverns says clubs should not escape smoking ban

25 January 2006
Punch Taverns says clubs should not escape smoking ban

Punch Taverns, the UK's largest pub company, believes there is no reason why private clubs should be exempt from a smoking ban.

Company chief executive Giles Thorley said: "In relation to the debate on smoking in pubs, we remain of the view that some form of choice for the consumer is sensible.

However, if Parliament does not support the Government proposals, then we see no reason why a distinction should be made to exclude private clubs from a ban."

Like-for-like sales at the company's 7,780-strong leased estate in the first 20 weeks of the financial were up around 1%.

Since the start of the company's financial year on 21 August, Punch has sold 483 leased pubs and acquired 38.

Thorley said 750 of the 1,800 managed pubs it purchased from Spirit last year would be converted and running under lease agreements within two months.

He added the company was "actively reviewing value creation opportunities for the remainder of the estate". However, he gave no hint as to whether this would result in the breaking up and sale of the remaining Spirit pubs, or whether Punch would retain a reduced, managed division, alongside its leased business.

Company profile: Punch Taverns >>

By Chris Druce

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