Mitchells & Butlers has announced strong trading in its half-year results.
The pub company says like-for-like sales are up by over 4%, operating profits are up - despite the rising cost of regulations and energy - and early signs from Scotland's smoke ban are 'favourable'.
The company says it is continuing to benefit from being at the forefront of pub food sales - selling some 80million meals across its estate in the last 12months.
M&B said its average weekly sales per managed pub have increased by 7.1% to £17k per week across it entire estate and its operating profit will have grown to not less than £143 for the first half.
Food sales appear to have been helped by the Scottish smoke ban leaving M&B feeling cautiously confident about a similar ban in England.
A spokesman said: "Although it is early days, the 5% of the estate in Scotland has continued to generate good sales growth since 26 March, with the initial impact of the smoking ban being to improve food sales in our pubs.
"This trend, if sustained, makes us more confident as to any impact of a similar ban when it is introduced in England next year."
The company said it plans to raise around £500million to return to shareholders through refinancing in the next six months.
It said it also plans to look at the possibility of buying some of the estate being disposed of by Whitbread.