ALMR and BHA merger given the go-ahead by members

22/02/2018 - 08:45
Members from industry bodies the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) have voted unanimously in favour of merging the two organisations into a new body called UKHospitality.

UKHospitality is aiming to become the voice of a sector which generates £130bn in revenue each year, encompasses 700 member companies across 65,000 venues and employs 2.9 million people.

The association will spearhead the sector’s representation on the strategic, structural and regulatory issues it faces, campaigning for policies to help it achieve further growth.

It will tackle Government on policies such as Brexit, the National Living Wage and business rates, costs pressures which contributed to restaurant insolvencies rising by a fifth last year.

UKHospitality has listed its three clear objectives as; creating a tax system which is fit for purpose, reflects the realities of business in the 21st century and allows a level playing field for traditional high street and community-based businesses which now compete with online companies; secondly, a regulatory regime which allows the hospitality sector to focus on growth rather than red tape; and finally, developing the hospitality workforce of the future.

As proposed last month when the merger was first announced, the board of UKHospitality will be led by chief executive Kate Nicholls, the current ALMR head.

“The hospitality sector is at a critical point, with fantastic innovation, dynamism and enthusiasm across the industry, however this is being jeopardised by significant cost increases and red-tape,” said Nicholls. 

“The incredible member support for creating UKHospitality demonstrates our ambition to reshape the future of an industry, which represents 10% of UK employment and generates £38bn of tax for the Exchequer. 

“I look forward to working closely with all members to achieve our vision and to give a sector of huge economic, cultural and social importance the voice it deserves within government, and to deliver the much-needed policies that will support its strong growth trajectory.”

Nick Varney of Merlin Entertainments will be the group’s chair and Steve Richards of Casual Dining Group, deputy chair. 

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, has decided to pursue other interests after eight years with the organisation.

“Today’s launch is a significant moment for our sector," said Varney, "The hospitality industry needs the right commercial environment in which to prosper. Our vibrant and dynamic sector has been overlooked in policy decisions over recent years, which has had a direct impact on jobs and value creation. 

“I thank Ufi Ibrahim for her significant contribution to the BHA; as CEO she reshaped and reformed the organisation from the ground up, raised its profile with government and championed many policy-shaping initiatives.  The Board and members wish her every success in her future ventures."

Richards added: “We are today reiterating our call for a dedicated minister to represent an industry which is the third largest private sector employer in the UK; double the size of financial services and bigger than automotive, pharmaceuticals and aerospace combined. 

“The sector’s tax contribution is as big as the defence budget, and warrants focused attention from government. Kate and the team have an ambitious plan to secure the future of our industry and will be actively engaging on behalf of the sector at home and abroad.”

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