Laurel Pubs, the modern face of the brewing industry, is planning to make a tenth of its 600 pubs non-smoking by the end of this year. The company was created out of Whitbread’s former pubs division, which Morgan Grenfell Private Equity bought in 2001 for £1.6 billion. After a streamlining exercise that disposed of more than 2,000 inns, Laurel’s remaining pubs are estimated to be worth at least £800m. The company has announced its intention to sell its neighbourhood pubs, and will retain about 175, including the high-street chains Hogshead and Casa inns. Its sales reached £394m in 2003.
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