Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries (W&D) believes an improved food offering and upgraded outside trading-areas at its pubs will minimise the effects of a smoking ban on the business.
It told shareholders today that as 80% of its pubs had outside areas, it would gain a competitive advantage if a total smoking was introduced in England as now expected.
W&D conceded a full ban, as opposed to a partial-ban on smoking in pubs linked to food, now looked likely following the Government's announcement there would be a free vote on the issue.
It added that the extended opening hours allowed under the new licensing rules had provided "a modest trading benefit".
In the 15 weeks to 14 January, its leased and tenanted pubs increased like-for-like sales by 1%, and the managed portfolio by 0.3%.
The group said this was satisfactory under the subdued trading conditions that currently prevailed.
W&D has reduced its net debt as of the year end to £853.9m, down from £871.7m in October 2004.
By Angela Frewin
Get your copy of Caterer and Hotelkeeper every week - click here to subscribe and save 25%.
|Sudoku Join the craze and play Sudoku online!|