Wetherspoon's sticks to plans to ban smoking

09 March 2005 by
Wetherspoon's sticks to plans to ban smoking

JD Wetherspoon is pushing ahead with plans to ban smoking in all its pubs, despite a 20% plunge in profits in recent months.

Chief executive John Hutson said: "Three-quarters of people in the UK don't smoke. We think there's a big opportunity to attract back customers who have stopped visiting pubs because of the smoke, helping to replace those we lose because of a ban."

By May the company will have banned smoking in 10% of its pubs, with the whole 650-strong managed estate becoming smoke-free by May 2006.

Hutson claimed the performances of its three existing no-smoking pubs showed it was a popular move. He said all three had seen food sales increase their contribution beyond the company's average of 25% of turnover since going smoke-free.

But while Wetherspoon's might be pinning its future strategy on smoke-free pubs, it has had a tough six months to 23 January 2005.

Slow trading saw pre-tax profits fall 20% to £22.3m, compared with £27.8m in 2003. The company's profits were also hit by an exceptional charge of £8m, which includes the higher-than-expected start-up costs of a new central distribution centre and the forthcoming sale of 16 underperforming pubs at a loss.

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