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Kate Nicholls Christmas Lunch speech 2016

Christmas Lunch – Unique Opportunity to pause, take breath, review the year which has just passed and look forward to the challenges for the year to come.

And as that video from Sky shows – what a year it has been! 2016 will be remembered for a lot of things – the highs of the Olympics, the lows of the football, the economic and political turbulence and above all Brexit. We have had to navigate an unexpected and at times challenging landscape. It is a time when you need the safe haven, the umbrella, the compass a trade association provides. A time when it has never been more important to speak with one clear, loud, united voice.

This time last year I spoke about the work we were doing to help politicians and the media understand our economic, social and cultural contribution and never has that investment, those hard yards been more important than this year. Whatever your views on the Brexit vote – never has their been a time when your political capital mattered more. Never has there been a time when we have been so front and centre of the political debate.

Steve mentioned our increasing strength in depth and this has been crucial at this time of change when the clamour is intense from lots of competing voices.

It has given us that cut through to make sure that hospitality has a seat at the table and a strong input when the most important issues were being debated. Whether that was the Ministerial round tables in the week after Brexit, the Select Committees shaping post Brexit migration and trade policy, the Mayor of London’s Night Time Commission or speaking for the whole of out of home at policy commissions on obesity, licensing, food policy, industrial strategy we have been right at the thick of it.

Gaining recognition, getting traction in high places, the realisation we can and do bring positive things to heart of Britain’s social, cultural and economic life is not just an end in itself, it is also vital to unlocking some of the campaign successes you have seen and will see on the screens during the lunch. Our vital campaigning work has delivered over £380m cost savings to your businesses this year .

And I would like to pay tribute to the tireless campaigning of the MPs joining us here today – we are truly grateful for your help and support in making our case.

But if there is one thing which this year has taught us it is that that hard work must continue. There is much, much more to be done to get the free, fair, flexible market conditions we need and deserve to allow our businesses to thrive, survive and grow.

Our message at those meetings? We are a world class, world beating sector of growth champions. We consistently outperform the economy and retail, investing in constituencies and communities across the country. Half of all jobs created since the financial crash of 2008 have been in the broader hospitality and tourism sector.

And we have the potential to go on doing so but it will not be realised – and crucially the opportunities Brexit presents will not be seized – unless we tackle the regulatory costs and burdens which stand in the way. We need a Brexit deal which works for our sector and our people and which puts food and drink front and centre of a new industrial strategy

Our pledge to Government is simple, free us up to do what we do best and we will deliver on the forecast extra 220,000 jobs we are expected to create by 2020. And we will invest even more in our people – providing high quality training and career development.

And I am delighted to unveil today two new ALMR initiatives to be taken forward in the New Year to provide practical solutions to help operators deliver that and to help the Government meet its objectives in this area.

Firstly, we are working with CPL to develop a new online tool called ALMR People Search to help businesses quickly and easily check people’s right to work – crucial as we move forward on Article 50 in delivering a right to remain and controlling and new guest worker permits. Providing solutions in areas the Government is looking for them.

Secondly, on the delivery of the new apprenticeship programme, we are working with HIT Training, CPL and BIIAB to develop a new ALMR diploma to draw existing work-based qualifications and in-house training in one fully integrated learning platform to deliver industry best practice apprencieships from level 2-5, entry level to leadership, which meet employers needs and bring back pride and professionalism and underpin career development.

We aim to build on our highly successful Operations Manager Awards enhanced this year with mini masterclasses and value added training to make the ALMR competition and process the cornerstone and gold standard. This year we had a stand alone event to honour the winners of the Award and I am delighted that the three of them are here today – Alix Horne of Punch our rising star and highly commended, Pete Wishart of Greene King Pub Partners, winner of BDM of the Year, Neil Mackay of Stonegate, winner of area manager of the year.

The Ops Award is a model of what we can do to demonstrate the investment we are making in highly skilled, trained staff and career development a living, breathing example of the message we are taking to Government about our potential and our contribution which will be key to unlocking some of the policy asks we have in a post Brexit world.

Today’s lunch is a celebration of all this and more. Our strapline – “one great lunch – one united industry” and is testament to what we can achieve when we work together. Thank you for being here and for your continued support.