In the week that the Welsh smoking ban became a reality, industry leaders issued a stark warning on the state of readiness of English pubs ahead of the 1 July ban.
The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), which represents 17,500 licensees, predicted that one in four pubs in England would not be ready to comply with the ban on smoking in enclosed public places.
Stephen Howe, director of membership at the BII, told Caterer: "The bigger managed and leased] pubs are being supported and advised. There is no question that this is a big change for many businesses and another piece of legislation for them to operate. But some pubs will not be aware of the amount of investment required."
He added that some of the delays would come from educating staff so rules could be effectively enforced.
"We recommend that any pub still looking to comply run by us what they are going to do with their business," Howe said. "The BII hopes we can help them as much as we can through this process."
Neil Williams, the British Beer & Pub Association's communications manager, warned that those operators failing to prepare would suffer the negative effects of the ban more than most.
"It is absolutely vital that pubs do as much as they can to prepare for the ban over the next three months. Those that are prepared will be best placed to deal with the negative effects, as there will be an inevitable effect on trade," he said. "It will be your end-of-terrace pubs that are going to be the ones finding this very difficult."
Consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers has warned that some hospitality and leisure businesses could face a revenue decline of up to 15% when the smoking ban is implemented, with many taking more than three years to recover to pre-ban levels.
By Christopher Walton
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