Marston's chief executive Ralph Findlay, who will issue a trading update on Thursday, says the company is focusing on a three-pronged approach – Food, Families and Females – to attract drinkers since the smoking ban came into force. It has already disposed of some wet-led pubs where drink sales far outstrip food and is attracting families as well as a growing number of diners rather than drinkers. The company revealed in May that 33% of sales in managed pubs already came from food. Marston's has also been exploring how to get the best value from its property portfolio, but has so far ruled out creating a real estate investment trust because the costs would outweigh any benefits. The group's main ale brands are growing both volume and market share, despite a decline in the overall beer market. In January it paid £155m for Eldridge Pope and then, four months later, £19.2m for Ringwood Brewery. More acquisitions could be on the cards. The Sunday Express 30/09/07 (Financial) page 29