BHA and ALMR merge to create new industry body

PROPOSALS to merge the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) to create a new industry body for the hospitality sector have been given the go ahead following “overwhelming” support from both groups’ members.

Kate Nicholls, current chief executive of the ALMR, will head up UKHospitality.

BHA and ALMR members yesterday (February 21) voted in favour of the new body at their respective extraordinary general meetings (EGM), triggering the creation of UKHospitality, which vows to be “the powerful new voice” for the hospitality sector.

The new body, which will represent a claimed 700 pub, restaurant, hotel and nightclub companies – totalling 65,000 venues and two million workers, “will spearhead hospitality’s representation on the strategic, and regulatory issues it faces, campaigning for policies to help the sector achieve further growth as a key driver of the UK economy”.

Revealed in a statement today (February 22), new industry body UKHospitality will be headed by ALMR’s current chief executive, Kate Nicholls, with Nick Varney of Merlin Entertainments and Steve Richards of Casual Dining Group taking up the roles of chair and deputy chair respectively.

Ufi Ibrahim, current BHA chief executive of the BHA, is stepping down to “pursue other interests”, according to today’s statement.

UKHospitality will also see the creation of a new board, whose members will include Steve Cassidy of Hilton, Bob Ivell of Mitchells & Butlers, Peter Marks of The Deltic Group, Alex Salussolia of Glendola Leisure and Callum Ross of Loch Melfort near Oban.

Commenting after the EGM votes, Kate Nicholls said: “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 £38 billion of tax for the Exchequer.”

Steve Richards has today reissued calls for a dedicated hospitality minister, which he said would “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”.

“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,” he said.