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Smokers to move their butts out: Green King

LONDON: Brewer Greene King is about to establish that good health can be infectious. After announcing healthy profits of £94m (up by 14 percent), the pub chain pledged today to ban smoking in all of its 850 directly managed pubs.

In addition, its menus have shed much of the traditional pub fare and are now featuring more healthful options like porcini mushroom risotto and smoked haddock fishcakes. So, besides making all its pubs smoke-free, Greene King will also be encouraging healthy eating.

While gourmands can ask for a revamped menu on their next visit this weekend, patrons who smoke need not fret already. The ban comes into effect by the year-end, until then smokers can happily puff away.

The pledge to ban smoking was taken following a nationwide call for ban on smoking in public places. Greene King defended its decision to ban smoking saying it was “almost inevitable”. It said its effort would help reduce the number of British pubs that allowed smoking. Greene King currently runs about 2,100 pubs in the UK.

The Suffolk-based company includes Hungry Horse pubs, Old English Inns which provide accommodation and a number of managed hostelries across southern England and East Anglia. It is more commonly known as the maker of IPA and Old Speckled Hen ale.

Two-thirds of the group’s £732.6m turnover was accounted for by the pubs division which has seen profits rise 13 percent. Total like-for-like sales, in just eight weeks at the start of the current fiscal year, had seen a rise of 1.9 percent. The spurt in business during Euro 2004 soccer tournament was not considered.

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