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Future of BHA boss unclear if trade association merger goes ahead

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The British Hospitality Association has said that its chief executive Ufi Ibrahim will continue in her current post until members vote on whether it should merge with the ALMR on February 21.

Yesterday the association confirmed that existing ALMR boss Kate Nicholls would take over as chief executive of the joint company – which will be called ‘UKHospitality’ – should the proposal receive the green light.

Additionally, Merlin Entertainment boss Nick Varney, is set to be named chair of the organisation, with CDG boss Steve Richards occupying the vice chair position.

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Mrs Ibrahim has played a vital role in championing the cause of the UK hospitality industry since her appointment in 2010. 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.

However, in yesterday’s joint announcement there was no mention of whether she would have a role to play in UKHospitality. Her name was not included in a list of 13 executives that would make up the proposed board of the new venture should the merger be approved.

Asked by Boutique Hotelier about the status of Mrs Ibrahim’s position, a spokesperson for the organisation replied: “Ufi continues as chief executive of the British Hospitality Association until the vote has been cast on 21 February where upon if it is agreed, Nick Varney of the BHA will take the position of chairman and Kate Nicholls of ALMR as chief executive.”

Pushed on whether it could be assumed from this that Mrs Ibrahim would be leaving the BHTA should the merger be voted through, the spokesperson said: “I’m afraid I cannot make any assumptions or comments on staffing matters.”

It is not currently clear what the BHA’s leadership plans in the unlikely event that members vote against the proposal next month.

By combining operations, the ALMR and BHA hope to create an entity with a “powerful new unified voice” to support the sector. The new body would represent more than 700 companies and 65,000 venues from the £130 billion hospitality industry.

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Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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