Hospitality has faced myriad cost pressures in recent years which have severely impacted the sector, with 2017 restaurant insolvencies alone up by a fifth on the previous year. UKHospitality will ensure that the government has a full understanding of the social and economic impacts of policies such as the National Living Wage, business rates and Brexit on the third largest private sector employer in the UK.
The new body has three clear objectives: firstly, creating a tax system which is fit for purpose, one which 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.
The Board of UKHospitality will be led by Kate Nicholls, CEO; Nick Varney of Merlin Entertainments, Chair; and Steve Richards of Casual Dining Group, Deputy Chair. Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association, has decided to pursue other interests after eight successful years with the organisation.
Commenting after the EGM votes, Kate 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. 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 said: “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. 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. I look forward to working closely with Kate Nicholls and the UKHospitality Board, to enhance the development of the diverse and innovative hospitality sector in the UK.”
Steve 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.”
Mike Wood MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group and MP for Dudley South, and Marcus Jones, former Pubs minister, said:
“This merger is a welcome, positive step to create a powerful body to speak authoritatively for a sector that generates over £130bn in turnover and employs nearly 3 million people. Such a significant part of the UK’s economy deserves a trade body with the capacity to promote the fantastic work being done across the UK. Kate is a great champion for hospitality and has extensive experience of working with Parliamentarians to highlight the opportunities and challenges being faced by businesses. I am pleased to see hospitality uniting behind a common cause and I look forward to continuing my work with Kate and UKHospitality.”