ALMR plans merger with BHA to create new hospitality trade body

ALMR BHA logos

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), which represents bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants, has today revealed plans to merge with the British Hospitality Association (BHA).

The new trade body, UKHospitality, will provide a unified voice for businesses in all aspects of hospitality including coffee shops, hotels, leisure parks, contract caterers, entertainment and visitor attractions as well as bars, pubs, restaurants and clubs.

Alongside the merger proposals, the two bodies have released new figures emphasising the size, scale and importance of the sector and its continued potential for growth.

Hospitality is the UK’s third largest private sector employer which directly generates £130billion of revenue each year. The sector is forecast to grow by 4.3%, generating 19,000 additional jobs by 2020.

Kate Nicholls, proposed CEO-elect of UKHospitality said: “This sector is a vital, dynamic economic powerhouse whose importance is clear in our communities, our high streets and our everyday lives. It is one of our fastest growing, most productive industries and last year it delivered one in eight of all new jobs.

“Faced with unprecedented political and regulatory pressures, now more than ever it requires the strongest and most effective voice within government. UKHospitality will be that vital voice and I am relishing the prospect of working with members to deliver both strong and connected relationships with government and a shared ambition to reshape the future of hospitality.”

The ALMR’s chairman Steve Richards, who is CEO of Casual Dining Group and former CEO of bar and club operator Novus, is lined up to be deputy chair of the proposed UKHospitality. He said: “A single strong voice for this vital and important sector will create a powerful platform for the changes we need, on tax, on people, on property and on regulation, for UK hospitality to really thrive, drive jobs growth and cement its position as a leading industry, globally.”

UKHospitality will actively speak for these combined industries on the big strategic, structural and regulatory issues and deliver policies to support its strong growth trajectory.

The industry’s leaders are calling for a dedicated minister to champion the industry at home and abroad and a sector deal, brokered with government, to support skills and productivity.

BHA chair Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments and proposed chair of UKHospitality, said: “Hospitality is a prosperous and vibrant sector with great potential for further growth if the right policies are in place and a single, strong trade association will be ideally positioned to provide that support.

“We are calling for a new ministerial champion and sector deal enabling the hospitality sector to invest in world-class careers and customer experiences.”

The proposals have been recommended to members of the ALMR and BHA and an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) will be held in February to approve them.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, commented: “Many congratulations to the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the British Hospitality Association (BHA) on their proposed merger. As a sector, brewing and pubs contributes £23billion to the UK economy and we look forward to working closely with the new association on our shared concerns.”

Mike Clist, chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping, added: “We congratulate the ALMR and BHA on reaching agreement to recommend to their members a proposed merger to form UKHospitality. The sector, being the third largest private sector employer and one that is growing rapidly on an annual basis, needs representative bodies that will be listened to in government.

“The BII has worked closely with the ALMR for many years and looks forward to continuing that relationship with UKHospitality. My personal congratulations go to Kate Nicholls on being appointed CEO-elect. She works tirelessly for the hospitality sector and with her knowledge and expertise is perfectly positioned to lead this new body going forward.”

The ALMR, whose members operate 23,000 outlets and employ over 1.3million people, was founded in 1992. It merged with the Bar, Entertainment and Dance Association (BEDA) nearly six years ago.

The BHA, which represents hotels, restaurants and food service, serviced apartments, clubs and visitor attractions, dates back to 1907 with the formation of the Incorporated Hotel Keepers Association, becoming the BHA in 1992 and later merging with the Restaurant Association of Great Britain.

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