by The PMA Team
Managed operator Mitchells & Butlers is to launch a non-smoking trial across 12 food pubs in a single town, Grimsby in North Lincolnshire, next month.
The trial will begin on 11 July and last for a full six months. The company has picked Grimsby for the experiment because the town represents its 'trading heartland.
M&B spokesman Simon Ward said: 'We've chosen Grimsby because it is Mitchells and Butlers writ small; it is the town that came up as most typical of our trading heartlands. The trial is about increasing the global amount of learning in the company on non-smoking. Modest investment described by Ward as 'tens of thousands will be spent on improving outside areas and 'sprucing-up prior to conversion.
'We will be looking at the results of the trial in Grimsby continuously but we don't want to judge it in the short-term, said Ward.
Mike Bramley, managing director of the pub division, said: 'We anticipate the trial to reflect what we would expect to see elsewhere should a move to no smoking in pubs which serve food be necessary in future as a result of legislation. The dozen pubs include four Ember Inns, three Sizzling Pub Company venues, two Pub Carveries and a Vintage Inn.
All of the properties in the trial will continue to allow smoking in gardens and external areas.
Comment cards will be available in pubs throughout the trial to encourage feedback from both customers and staff on the smoke-free environment.
The company has been running a non-smoking trial at about a dozen pubs around the country. One pub is the Blackfriars, a Nicholson's pub in the City of London, which went non-smoking last November. Said Ward: 'It lost some regulars but is now trading in positive territory. Of the wider trial, Ward added: 'The results are a mixed bag with not all pubs in positive territory.