Kate Nicholls has been the shining star of 2020 and the hospitality industry’s champion during this incredibly challenging pandemic year.
As chief executive at trade body UKHospitality, she has been a constant pillar of support to sector businesses, from pubs, restaurants and cafes, to hotels, tourist attractions and nightclubs, sending clear, coherent messages to government on the importance of our industry to society and the economy. At every opportunity Nicholls has grabbed the chance to speak to the media and representatives of parliament, stressing the demands, challenges and often desperate plight of the hospitality sector over the last 12 months.
She hasn’t once shied away from using her platform to press government on key promises of reform and over the last 12 months has elevated hospitality and its position to ensure it remains a major talking point during the Covid crisis. At every twist and turn of 2020, from tier restrictions, to the substantial meal rule and every measure in-between that seemed to make a mockery of the hospitality sector, Nicholls provided a voice for around 700 members, who collectively have some 70,000 sites in the UK from big name restaurant chains to smaller boutique hotels.
A passionate speaker, Nicholls has worked tirelessly to lobby government for further financial support for the sector to ensure business survival.
When she isn’t meeting directly with government figures, she is relentlessly advising operators on new legislation, sharing ideas on new initiatives to help the industry, or simply putting the work in on social media to reassure and advise her followers.
She was appointed to the role at UKHospitality in 2018, having previously worked as CEO and strategic affairs director of the ALMR. The trade association was formed earlier that year when the British Hospitality Association and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers merged.
After gaining a degree in English and a post-graduate diploma in competition law, Nicholls worked as a researcher in the House of Commons and European Parliament before joining Whitbread as government relations manager, starting her careers in hospitality in 1993. Nicholls was director at one of the largest independent public affairs companies, working with a number of hospitality, retail and leisure accounts before establishing her own strategic communications consultancy in 2000.