Bosses of some of the UK's biggest foodservice companies have backed the campaign to create a minister for hospitality role.
An open letter to the catering sector has been signed by the likes of Bartlett Mitchell founder Wendy Bartlett, Lexington managing director Julia Edmonds, Elior chief executive Catherine Roe, BaxterStorey co-chief executives Noel Mahony and John Bennett, CH&Co chairman Tim Jones and Compass Group UK & Ireland managing director Robin Mills.
The letter said: "This year, in particular, we have seen many examples of disjointed thinking surrounding this industry. Several of the challenges may have been avoided if we had representation within Parliament who has operational experience and a deeper understanding of the sector…
"In addition to championing hospitality and promoting the importance of its economic, social, and employment contribution, a dedicated minister would drive cohesive thinking and strategy at the top table inclusive of all sub-sectors. We believe this person would have played a vital role in supporting the government throughout the pandemic period.
"The individual appointed would be fully invested and have a deep understanding of this complex industry — including the contract catering sector — while also advancing the status of hospitality and tourism as a whole. This shift in structure will force the government to support and engage with hospitality leaders, as well as helping to promote growth and the sector's interests."
The petition surpassed 100,000 signatures this week and therefore on 11 January at 4.30pm it will be debated in Parliament. Today it has more than 155,000 signatures. However, the group said "considering the number of businesses in serious financial difficulty, the growing number of redundancies, and the threat of increasing restrictions, the more voices we have pushing for this debate, the better".