Pub chain JD Wetherspoon said it believes pubs have become 'more attractive to the majority of customers' after smoking was banned on July 1.
In a trading update this morning Wetherspoon said: " Scottish pubs have been non-smoking for over a year, Northern Ireland and Wales became non-smoking in April 2007 and England in July 2007. "As previously indicated, the change to non-smoking has led to strong growth in food sales allied to a slow-down in bar sales. "Whereas this may have an initial impact on margins, we believe that this legislation has resulted in pubs becoming more attractive to the majority of customers.
"Our total like-for-like sales have continued to grow in all countries as a result of the beneficial impact on food sales."
The company said like-for-like sales for the first 11 weeks of the fourth quarter had increased by 4.9%.
Year-to-date (50 weeks to 15 July 2007) like-for-like sales increased by 5.8%, with overall company sales up by 6.9%.
The financial year so far has seen the opening of 15 new pubs and the disposal of three.
Another three pubs will open in the remainder of this financial year and Wetherspoon currently has an additional 10 pubs already on site for opening in the new financial year.
The financial year to July 2008 is expected to see the opening of about 30 new pubs.
Looking at the future the statement read: "The outlook for 2008 involves more uncertainty than usual, in the light of the smoking ban, although the Company has been encouraged by the sales performance in the relevant areas so far. Cost inflation is anticipated to be in line with our expectations, with increases in interest rates and minimum wage offset by a reduction in energy costs.
"Provided these sales patterns continue, a reasonable outcome is anticipated."