Marston's, the former Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries, has said it will review the performance of its pub estate after the forthcoming smoking ban in England and Wales.
The company also said disposals of underperforming outlets were likely.
The Wolverhampton-based group, which recently bought south of England brewer and pubs group Eldridge Pope for #155.1 million, said it would "carefully review" the situation over coming months, but declined to say how many pubs may be put shut.
Recent reports suggested the group is looking to sell 280 for #50-#70 million. It is believed to have appointed accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers.
"It is likely we will sell a number of pubs, but there is no precise number in mind at this stage," group chief executive Ralph Findlay said yesterday.
"It's something we constantly look at and monitor."
Marston's currently operates about 2,520 pubs, with 1,960 of them leased and tenanted.
The recent acquisition of Eldridge Pope brought another 135 pubs into the estate, about 17 of which are to be sold.
The pubs industry is bracing itself for a raft of disposals from the major operators as the smoking ban weeds out some of the more underperforming outlets.
Punch Taverns, based at Burton upon Trent, is believed to be looking to dispose of about 1,000 of its 9,300-strong estate, while other operators are also likely to sell some of their smaller units.
The smoking ban will come into force in Wales from April 2, and from July 2 in England.
Marston's has spent about #20 million on improving its estate ahead of the ban.
It has built patios and conservatories into a number of its pubs, about 200 of which are in Wales, to try to negate the effects of the ban.
"We're pretty confident we've done everything to try and minimise the impact of the ban," said Mr Findlay.
"We go into the second half of the current financial year with some good sales momentum in both our managed and tenanted estates.
"Food, especially, is taking-off and now accounts for 33 per cent of our total retail sales.
"This will become an increasingly important part of the customer proposition as the smoking ban comes in."
An emphasis on better quality food was also helping to improve sales of wine and premium ales.
Marston's, which yesterday updated investors on its first-half performance, said like-for-like sales in its managed pubs division were up seven per cent over the 24-week period, while average profit per pub in its tenanted estate was ahead of the same period last year.
"The impact of the smoking ban is uncertain. But the high quality of our estate is enabling us to deliver good growth," said Mr Findlay.
In the group's brewing division, volumes remained below last year's levels, although premium ales such as the flagship Marston's Pedigree – sponsor to the England cricket team – increased.
The company also yesterday promised to complete its #100 million share buy-back programme by the end of the current financial year although the increased costs of funding the programme and the acquisition of Eldridge Pope will increase costs by #2 million in the first six months.
This will leave pre-tax profits for the six months to March 2007 at a similar level to the previous year's figure of #40.2 million.
Although earnings per share will benefit from the buy-back programme and be ahead of the reported figure of 36.2p.
For the full year to September, analysts are looking for pre-tax profits of about #103-#104 million.