My role at the ALMR means I regularly speak to our members across the country, ranging from small, independently-run village pubs to national chains and household names, from Scotland to Cornwall, and from Anglesey to London. One thing is clear: they’re optimistic about the future of hospitality in the UK, but they feel they could contribute more to their local economy and the UK, if they had the support and opportunity to do so. The restaurants, pubs and cafés on our High Streets and in our villages, are a visible, integral and familiar part of life in the UK that contribute significantly to our everyday lives. However, these businesses are facing more political and regulatory pressures than ever before, combined with competition from online businesses which are not impacted by the same issues, such as business rates.
That’s why, on the 23rd January we announced plans to merge the ALMR and the BHA to create a strong, new trade body, UKHospitality, which could passionately champion our dynamic industry at home and abroad. The new association would deliver a vital unified voice for the hospitality sector at a time when it is needed more than ever. Merging the ALMR and the BHA would bring together over 700 businesses from all aspects of hospitality, including restaurants, hotels, leisure parks, contract caterers and many more. As the proposed CEO of the planned new trade body, 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.
Hospitality is a fast-growing sector employing over 2.9 million people, making it the third largest private sector employer – bigger than automotive, pharmaceuticals and aerospace combined, and twice as big as financial services. Last year, it accounted for 1 in 8 of all new jobs and by 2020 a further 19,000 new jobs will have been generated. The sector also generates £38 billion in tax for the Exchequer helping to fund vital services. This is equivalent to the UK’s annual defence budget.
Careers and opportunities are at the heart of what our sector offers British society; over two thirds of our jobs are semi-skilled, and the hospitality industry offers entry-level opportunities ranging from apprenticeships through to specialist areas such as marketing, finance, design, IT and law. Many entrepreneurs, managers and Chief Executives in our industry started their careers pulling pints, serving coffee, or on graduate schemes and have worked their way up, benefitting from the exciting combination of professional training and development, and on the job, customer-facing experience. One of the priorities of UKHospitality would be to deliver an integrated careers and skills strategy for the sector.
Working with the government to secure a Brexit deal that delivers for our current and future workforce needs, as well as delivering an ambitious and dynamic tourism sector deal that supports growth, would be clear signs of success for the organisation. As a first step, we are calling for a dedicated Minister to champion the industry at home and abroad, which we see as crucial in securing the right deal for the sector.
The members of the ALMR and the BHA will vote on the proposed merger on 21 February, and we are keen to see members of both organisations make their views heard by voting. You can read the full announcement here: http://www.almr.org.uk/merger-creates-powerful-new-voice-uks-130bn-hospitality-sector/