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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 26th Jan 2018 - Friday Opinion
Subjects: Creating a new powerful voice for the sector with UKHospitality, revitalising CAMRA, and the CPL Nanny State Annual Awards for Fake News and Phoney Statistics
Authors: Steve Richards, Colin Valentine and Paul Chase

Creating a new powerful voice for the sector with UKHospitality by Steve Richards

The creation of UKHospitality from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the British Hospitality Association (BHA) is a very significant moment for our sector. This proposed merger will establish a strong and meaningful body, and gives our industry the powerful and vital voice it deserves. UKHospitality will reflect a business sector that generates £130bn of annual revenue and employs almost three million people – a figure that has risen 16% since 2010.

The foundation of UKHospitality is a logical progression following the recent successes of combined and far-reaching lobbying by the two groups, most graphically illustrated by the industry’s hard-won concessions on the National Living Wage, which delayed cost increases to the sector by £1bn a year. 

The merger, of course, didn’t just happen and has been 12 months in the making. I would like to thank the five other individuals who made up the dedicated steering committee – from the ALMR side, Alex Salussolia (Glendola) and Damien Walsh (CGA); from BHA, Grant Hearn (Eudemon), Nick Varney (Merlin) and Andrew Guy. On a personal level, I thoroughly enjoyed the process, which was always positive and a meeting of like-minded people with a passion for hospitality in all its shapes and guises. 

I am also very pleased that Kate Nicholls, following a thorough chief executive search carried out by independent recruitment consultancy KornFerry and covering a number of internal and external candidates, is proposed as chief executive and, in the spirit of balance, Nick Varney, current chairman of the BHA is proposed as chairman (I will support him as his deputy chairman). The board and council of the new body will be member-driven, reflecting the wide range of experience and differing skills within our diverse sector and businesses.

More than ever our dynamic businesses need a well-funded, unified (and sufficiently loud) voice to promote, protect and develop what is one of the fastest growing and most significant business sectors in the UK. The numbers are compelling:
Hospitality is the UK’s third-largest private sector employer – double the size of the financial services sector and bigger than the automotive, pharmaceuticals and aerospace industries combined
Last year, our industry created one-in-eight net new jobs in the economy
Hospitality is on an upward growth trajectory, forecast to grow 4.3% annually to 2020, generating 19,000 additional jobs

Further, and as we all know, it is a vibrant, entrepreneurial sector where 90% of outlets are operated by small or medium-sized businesses, and one that fosters a thriving start-up culture where creativity and innovation are a constant.

Together, UKHospitality can be a powerful new influential force and build on the work and achievements of the ALMR and the BHA thus far. Aside from a powerful logic that has driven the bringing together of these two organisations, there is also a critical business imperative. While the enlarged body will represent a broader and diverse mix of hospitality businesses – spanning pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, coffee shops and visitor attractions – the big, common causes are what unite us and what has driven this merger – overall taxation, tax equality (with other industries), business rates, labour inflation, labour availability and perception of the sector, cost-of-goods inflation, property, red tape and so on. The list is long and challenging; the majority of us can firmly say that we have never, in our careers, felt these issues and their impact on our businesses more intensely and more dramatically than in the past 12 to 18 months. 

Kate has done an incredible job as chief executive of the ALMR and has been supported by a great team in Ealing that is totally dedicated to our sector. She possesses an unparalleled understanding of our industry and the machinations of Whitehall. With an ability to speak the language of both business and politics, Kate has fostered excellent relationships across a range of governmental departments. All this is underpinned by a clear and genuine passion, and ambition, for hospitality. 

The new body will be very large, with 700 member companies. With scale comes complexity but we are determined everything we do will be member-driven, and to this end an advisory council will be established to bring together each part of the membership to debate current issues, and to provide insight and support to the executive team on strategy development. Sector-specific policy groups will ensure every issue of concern or specific challenge is heard and that we remain close to our roots. In addition to these groups, it’s proposed many of the existing ALMR directors will join the new board together with an equitable representation from the BHA.

Next month, members of the ALMR and BHA will be asked to give their support to this proposal, and I am confident they will welcome the opportunity to create a new powerful voice for hospitality and to further transform the image, impact and influence our industry has with politicians and within the corridors of power. 
Steve Richards is chairman of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, the proposed deputy chair of UKHospitality and chief executive of Casual Dining Group

Revitalising CAMRA by Colin Valentine

It wasn’t without a little trepidation that my colleagues and I on the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) national executive signed off on the communications plan to inform members and the wider world about the next step in our Revitalisation Project. Revitalisation has been the most fundamental review of CAMRA’s purpose and activities in our history – and has seen the largest-scale consultation of our members, as well as in-depth consultation with many stakeholders across the beer, cider and pub industries.
We’ve now gone public on the recommendations for change the national executive is making to members, as well as asking them to vote to adopt special resolutions, which will change the organisation’s Articles of Association to help us embody those changes into our constitution. It’s always been our intention to allow as many members as possible to have a say in the revitalisation decision and the use of special resolutions gives every single member the right to vote, whether or not they attend the annual general meeting.
Being inclusive and democratic is important but it’s also one of the causes for our trepidation. We will do all we can to convince our members of the value of the changes we’ve recommended, but the matter is now in their hands – as it should be. We’re confident we’ve made a strong case for change and we’re equally confident the changes we’ve recommended reflect the majority view of our membership, having heard from tens of thousands of members over the consultation period.
We’re also confident the changes will give us more authority and credibility with those working in the trade, having spoken to many of you about this subject over the years. The opinions we received from our “external stakeholders” during the consultation last year were hugely important, and instrumental in shaping our decisions in a number of important areas.
But it’s naive to think all members will welcome our organisation attempting to modernise and reflect the modern beer and pub landscape. Some will have concerns, many of which have already been articulated. Some have expressed anger, and a few have even threatened to derail the process in a bid to disenfranchise the majority of our members.
It’s also naive to think the information we have released won’t be used and abused by those with a particular agenda, one way or the other. We’ve already seen the proposed changes misrepresented, sensationalised and used without context (and that was before they were published). With such a large and far-reaching project it’s impossible to distill it down to a few, simple, unambiguous sentences immune from misinterpretation. I’d urge you to ignore the headlines, the hot-takes and the noise on social media and read the evidence and our full recommendations for yourself, unfiltered and unspun.
Those in the trade should welcome the proposed changes. They are designed to make CAMRA more relevant, more welcoming and more inclusive of the drinkers and pub-goers it represents. It’s important to note this isn’t about us changing our core belief that real ale is the pinnacle of the brewer's art – when it is well made, well kept and served well – but it is all about being pragmatic about how real ale fits into the wider market.
There is little value in discriminating against and refusing to recognise the existence of other high-quality beers, ciders and perries that might not conform to our definition of real ale – especially when the wider drinking public increasingly either don’t care or aren’t aware of the distinction when they order their drinks.
We’re also seeking to recognise the drivers of beer quality and choice for consumers are sometimes far removed from the traditional pub. While we’re not abandoning our objectives to preserve and protect vital community pubs, we can widen our scope to act as the consumer’s champion in a much wider range of on-trade venues. Again, drinkers are looking for a good range of great beer, and they’re not too bothered if that’s in a burger restaurant, cafe or sports stadium (rather than in a traditional British boozer).
Driving beer and cider quality across the trade, as well as ensuring the best customer experience regardless of the shape or size of the venue, will become a key objective for CAMRA, as it should for all in the industry. It’s why retailers and producers will see a positive change if our members approve the changes that we are proposing. We’ll be more welcoming of you and your products, (it’s likely) we’ll include more of you in our competitions, publications and awards and we’re going to be more open and flexible when it comes to cross-industry partnerships, either commercial or campaigning.
Colin Valentine is national chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale

CPL Nanny State Annual Awards for Fake News and Phoney Statistics by Paul Chase

I am pleased to announce the launch of the CPL Nanny State Annual Awards for Fake News and Phoney Statistics. The awards will go to the person or organisation that has perpetrated the most gratuitous porky or porkies, fake news or phoney statistics, in relation to public health. I invite readers of Propel Opinion to submit examples of fake news and phoney statistics – whether it be in relation to alcohol, sugar, obesity, carcinogenic burnt bacon – or any other claim made by nanny-statists that is designed to foment moral panic, frustrate modern life or otherwise deter us from doing anything pleasurable, on the dubious basis that it is better to die of boredom than anything else.
There will be three categories of award in relation to alcohol, sugar and obesity.
A few examples of fake news and phoney statistics from the past:
“There is no safe level of alcohol consumption.” And: “Do I want the glass of wine or do I want to raise my own risk of breast cancer?” Both quotes are from professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer of health – even though she did get the wording a bit mixed up in the second quote, we know what she meant!
Another example would be chief nanny Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, chairman of the health and home affairs committee, who conducted a PR stunt in parliament on Monday (22 January), to campaign for minimum unit pricing (MUP), a policy she’s been championing for years. At the committee hearing she quoted the fake statistic: “The cost of alcohol is at least £21bn a year.”
At this hearing a couple of the usual suspects gave “evidence” – professor Sir Ian Gilmore from the Alcohol Health Alliance and professor Nick Sheron – both ardent alcophobes who support MUP. The usual lie that MUP won’t affect moderate drinkers was repeated – Gilmore stated its introduction at 50 pence a unit would cost moderate drinkers “just £1.72 a year”. To be fair, professor Sheron was nearer the mark when he estimated the cost at £60 to £150 a year!
Another recent example of fake news is the comment made by Richard Horton, the Marxist editor of the Lancet: “Liver disease is on a trajectory to become the biggest cause of death in England and Wales.” This fake fact is designed to scare us off drinking alcohol. In fact, the Office for National Statistics states liver disease is tenth on the list, causing half as many deaths as prostate cancer and an eighth as many deaths as heart disease.
But the best recent example of fake news in relation to alcohol came from – yes you guessed it – The Sun newspaper, which came up with this magnificent headline: “Boffins claim one pint a day can give you dementia.” As Chris Snowdon, director of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, put it: “That public health lie went around the world before the truth even got its shoes on.”
The prize for all three categories will go to the perpetrator of the porky we select and will consist of a trophy and a bottle of cheap booze with the label removed and replaced with a health warning, and wrapped in plain packaging, of course.
All suggestions should be sent to me at by the end of February 2018 and should contain the quote and attribute it to the person or organisation being quoted. All quotes should be from 2017 and when we’ve picked the winners all contributors and their chosen porky perpetrators will all meet in a disreputable bar for an award ceremony and a night of responsible drinking.
Paul Chase is a director of CPL Training and a leading commentator on alcohol and health policy

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