Creation of UKHospitality is ‘significant moment’ for sector

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has merged with the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) to form an association representing 700 operators across 65,000 sites.

Called UKHospitality, the new body represents a sector that generates £130 billion in revenue each year and employs 2.9 million people.

The merger was approved by members of both associations at an extraordinary general meeting yesterday (February 21) and the chief executive is former ALMR CEO Kate Nicholls (pictured).

Nick Varney (Merlin Entertainments) is chair, with Steve Richards (Casual Dining Group) as deputy chair.

UKHospitality said that Ufi Ibrahim, BHA chief executive, has decided “to pursue other interests after eight successful years with the organisation”.

Nicholls said: “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.

“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.”

Varney commented: “Today’s launch is a significant moment for our sector. 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.”

He thanked Ibrahim for her “significant contribution to the BHA”, adding: “As CEO, she reshaped and reformed the organisation from the ground up, raised its profile with government and championed many policy-shaping initiatives.”

Richards said: “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.”

The board of UKHospitality will include: Wendy Bartlett of Bartlett Mitchell, Steve Cassidy of Hilton, Grant Hearn of Amaris Hospitality, Bob Ivell of M&B, Simon Jones of Premier Inn, Dermot King of Bourne Leisure, Peter Marks of The Deltic Group, Ranjit Mathrani of Masala World, Calum Ross of Loch Melfort, Robin Rowland of YO! Sushi, Alex Salussolia of Glendola Leisure, Damian Walsh of CGA and Paul Wigham of All Our Bars.

A dedicated website will be launched in due course.

• Tourism minister Michael Ellis tweeted: “I welcome the merger between @BHAtweets and @ALMRInfo & look forward to exploring how, together, we can continue to support growth in the hospitality sector helping to benefit the fantastic #tourism experiences that are on offer across the UK.”