The British Hospitality Association (BHA) and Association of Licenced Multiple Retailers (ALMR) are to merge to create UKHospitality, a new association representing 700 operators across 65,000 sites.
The proposed organisation, which will be voted on by members of both associations at extraordinary general meetings on 21 February, will be led by current ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls (pictured). It is not clear whether British Hospitality Association chief executive Ufi Ibrahim will remain with the new organisation.
Nicholls told The Caterer that both boards were unanimously behind the move and would encourage members to rubber stamp the proposals next month.
She added: "We believe that the new body bringing together every single aspect of hospitality will deliver far better membership services, stronger lobbying and greater leverage.
"Hospitality represents 10% of the UK workforce, 6% of businesses and 5% of GDP. An industry of that size, scale and importance to UK plc hasn't had the representative voice that it deserves. This is a chance to put it in place and create a body that is equal in size, scale and stature to the industry it seeks to represent."
The merger has come out of the joint work undertaken by the BHA and ALMR on Brexit and National Living Wage after influential members grew frustrated that the sector's concerns weren't being heard at the highest levels of government.
Nicholls added: "We reached out to work collaboratively and collectively on issues of common ground. That went so well that the boards asked us to look at how we could formalise that and broaden it. The logical extension of that was to merge."
Current BHA chair and Merlin Entertainments chief executive Nick Varney, will chair UK Hospitality, while all current BHA and ALMR employees will join the new organisation, which is likely to be based at a new London site.
Nicholls said: "Both organisations are in rude health, they are very robust, have growing membership and substantial resources. So we're not doing this for any other reason than to deliver a step change in this sector.
"The beauty of this is that there's a real complimentary fit in terms of members, the sectors that the organisations represent, the skills sets and resources that we have in house."
An English graduate from Cambridge University, Nicholls spent three years early in her career working in the government relations department at Whitbread. She has since worked for the Westminster Licensees Association and the Council of Property Search Organisations before taking on the role of strategic affairs director at the ALMR in 2011. She was appointed chief executive in 2014.
The proposed Board of UKHospitality would 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, Yo Sushi; Alex Salussolia of Glendola Leisure; Damian Walsh of CGA; and Paul Wigham of All Our Bars.
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