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Merger creates powerful new voice for UK’s £130bn hospitality sector

Press release 23.01.2018

Merger creates powerful new voice for UK’s £130bn hospitality sector

Plans have been unveiled today to deliver a powerful new unified voice to support the dynamic hospitality sector to deliver its full growth potential.

The merger of the UK’s two major hospitality trade associations, the ALMR and the BHA, will create a new body, UKHospitality, which will actively speak out for the UK’s third largest private sector employer, which combined directly generates £130bn of revenue each year.

Key headlines from this transformational collaboration include:

  • The new body will bring together businesses from all aspects of hospitality; coffee shops, hotels, pubs, restaurants, leisure parks, nightclubs, contract caterers, entertainment and visitor attractions
  • 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 sector generates £38bn of tax for the Exchequer, funding vital services
  • Hospitality represents 10% of UK employment, 6% of businesses and 5% of GDP
  • Hospitality is the 3rd largest private sector employer in the UK; double the size of financial services and bigger than automotive, pharmaceuticals and aerospace combined
  • The sector is 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


Combining the expertise, experience and resources of the ALMR and the BHA, the proposed new body would champion the breadth of innovative and vibrant hospitality businesses across the UK, giving an authoritative voice to over 700 companies, 65,000 venues and 2 million workers. It will speak on behalf of a wide range of leisure and ‘out-of-home’ businesses, from FTSE 100 enterprises to niche groups and independent single-site operators.

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. The sector is forecast to grow by 4.3% generating 19,000 additional jobs by 2020. UKHospitality’s objective will be to deliver much-needed policies to help the sector secure that opportunity, and would drive employment and innovation, and support entrepreneurs.

Announcing the proposals, 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 1 in 8 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”.

Nick Varney, proposed Chair of UKHospitality, added: “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.”

Steve Richards, proposed Deputy Chair of UKHospitality, 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.”

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



For further information, please contact:


Tony Sophoclides                                                            020 8579 2080


Brunswick Group LLP for UKHospitality                               0207 4040 5959

Fiona Micallef-Eynaud / Honoria Simpson                 


Notes to editors

  • 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.
  • An Advisory Council to UKHospitality, chaired by Steve Richards, current Chair of the ALMR and CEO of Casual Dining Group, will be established that brings together those elected members of each current organisation
  • Separate policy groups will ensure that all interests and concerns of member companies are addressed in the work of UKHospitality:
    • Robin Rowland of Yo Sushi will Chair the restaurant group;
    • Bob Ivell of M&B will Chair the pub group;
    • Peter Marks of Deltic will Chair the late-night group;
    • Paul Wigham, Phil Thorley and Alex Salussolia will continue to provide vital SME input at all levels of the structure of the proposed association
    • Separate policy groups for SMEs, hotels and catering as well as separate Scotland and Wales groups

Research undertaken recently, as part of the consideration of this merger, reveals that:

  • Hospitality represents 10% of UK employment, 6% of businesses in the UK and 5% of UK GDP
  • The sector has grown by 5.8% per year on average since 2010
  • There are 2.9 million jobs in hospitality; an increase of 16% since 2010. Last year, hospitality generated 1 in 8 of net new jobs
  • There were 26,000 new business starts across the sector in 2016