The new smoking ban in public places is spelling a surge in business for the Oxford branch of cash and carry chain Booker.

In little more than a week since the ban came into force, the store has sold out of garden furniture and large canopies. Barrier screens and external ashtrays are also selling fast.

The sales boom has been sparked by pubs and restaurants looking to offer smokers more facilities as they light up outside.

Tony Overton, managing director of Booker Extra, said: "A lot of businesses have seen the smoking ban as an opportunity. Some are doubling their space by creating outside areas where smokers can sit."

Mr Overton said that across the chain, five times more garden furniture was being sold this year than last, despite the poor weather. He put this directly down to the smoking ban.

He added that Booker, which deals with business customers only, had deliberately introduced outdoor furniture and equipment aimed at the catering trade because it had witnessed the effect on sales initially when the ban came into force in Scotland and then Wales.

The branch in Osney Mead was relaunched recently after undergoing a refurbishment costing about £100,000. The colour scheme has been changed from blue to orange, lighting has been improved and more cash has been ploughed into freezers and the provision of locally sourced food.

Store manager Michelle Guy said: "We are sourcing food from local producers and have managed reduce food miles by 10 per cent.

"The food is fresher and also 30 per cent cheaper."

Mr Overton said 250 new customers had been added to the store's 3,000-strong database since the refurbishment and the aim was to add another 2,000 covering a 30-mile radius from Banbury to Aylesbury.

A further 10 full and part-time jobs have also been created, taking the staff rota to 50.

The Booker Group returned to the stock market earlier this month via a reverse £100m takeover of smaller rival Blueheath.

It also posted pre-tax profits for the year to March 31 of £6.3m, compared with a loss of £142.1m last year.

Booker had been suffering from declining sales and profits as part of the Iceland group. It was then taken private by Icelandic investment group Baugur in 2005 and split off from the supermarket chain.