Ufi Ibrahim to depart BHA after successful UKHospitality merger bid

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association has decided to step down from her role to ‘pursue other interests’, following the successful merger bid by the BHA and Association of Licenced Multiple Retailers (ALMR) to create new association UKHospitality.

The merger was approved by members of both BHA and ALMR at a meeting held yesterday, with a new board being appointed and former ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls stepping in to head up the new venture.

Details of the proposed merger where revealed in January and it was unclear whether Ibrahim, who has been chief executive of the BHA since July 2010, would have a role if UKHospitality was given the green light.

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Now it’s been confirmed that she is the leave the organisation.

Ibrahim has played a vital role in championing the cause of the UK hospitality industry since her appointment eight years ago. She has spearheaded the establishment of the Tourism Industry Council – a joint government and industry working coalition chaired by the UK Minister for Tourism where she serves as a member, The Big Hospitality Conversation (resulting in 67,000 new career starts for under 25s across the UK), and The Hospitality & Tourism Summit.

Joining Nicholls, the new chief executive of UKHospitality, will be current BHA chair and Merlin Entertainments boss Nick Varney, who will chair UKHospitality, while Steve Richards of Casual Dining Group will take the position of deputy chair.

All current BHA and ALMR employees will join the new organisation, which is likely to be based at a new London site.

The new association will represent 700 operators across 65,000 sites, and commenting on the merger, Nicholls said that its creation ‘demonstrates the ambition to reshape the future of an industry’.

She said: “The hospitality sector is at a critical point, with fantastic innovation, dynamism and enthusiasm across the industry, however this is being jeopardised by significant cost increases and red-tape. The incredible member support for creating UKHospitality demonstrates our ambition to reshape the future of an industry, which represents 10% of UK employment and generates £38bn of tax for the exchequer.

“I look forward to working closely with all members to achieve our vision and to give a sector of huge economic, cultural and social importance the voice it deserves within government, and to deliver the much-needed policies that will support its strong growth trajectory.”

The new body has said it has three clear objectives: firstly, creating a tax system which is fit for purpose, reflects the realities of business in the 21st century and allows a level playing field for high street and community-based businesses, which now compete with online companies; secondly, a regulatory regime which allows the hospitality sector to focus on growth rather than red tape and finally, to develop the hospitality workforce of the future.

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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