Two thirds of Greene King customers give smoke-free pubs the thumbs up

By Hamish Champ

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Greene king pubs Bury st edmunds Rooney anand

Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand participated in polling the brewer's pub-going customers last Sunday to hear their views on the smoking...

Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand participated in polling the brewer's pub-going customers last Sunday to hear their views on the smoking ban.

Anand was one of several executives from Bury St Edmunds who vox-popped a total of 5,000 customers and licensees in Greene King pubs on the first day of the English ban.

The poll found that 82 per cent of licensees believed the ban would make pubs better environments for staff to work in and that pubs would benefit overall in the long term.

Sixty-seven per cent of customers agreed with the ban, while 45 per cent said they would visit smoke free pubs more frequently.

"This evidence shows pubs can benefit from the ban," said Anand. "Yes, hardcore smokers will think their rights have been infringed, but we've worked really hard to ease the disruption they feel has been created by the need to smoke outside."

Anand said 95 per cent of Greene King pubs had facilities for smoking customers. "This creates an opportunity for pubs and most have said they would not roll back the new rules if given the chance."

Anand highlighted the group's experience in Scotland in the last year as illustrating what can be done in a smoke free environment.

A push on food in its Scottish pubs and more focus on selling Belhaven Best saw the group post annual sales in Scotland last year up one per cent at £115.1m, with operating profits up four per cent to £22.4m, a set of results described by Anand as a "significant achievement in the first year of the Scottish smoking ban".

"We've grown food in Belhaven's managed pubs by 25 per cent, which offset a slight decline in beer sales and machine income," Anand added.

Belhaven's on-trade beer volumes rose 2.2 per cent, with Belhaven brands up 2.4 per cent, driven by Belhaven Best volumes up 5.6 per cent.

Delivering promised synergies across the business also impacted positively on margins, he added.

Related topics Greene King

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