The UK's £130bn hospitality sector could soon be represented by a new trade body after two industry organisations announced plans to merge today.
The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the British Hospitality Association (BHA) have proposed to combine to represent the sector under the new name UKHospitality.
Businesses which will come under the body's remit include coffee shops, hotels, pubs, restaurants, leisure parks, nightclubs, contract caterers, entertainment and visitor attractions.
Kate Nicholls, who is currently chief executive of the ALMR, is the proposed chief of the new body. The merger and her appointment is subject to the approval of an extraordinary general meeting.
"This sector is a vital, dynamic economic powerhouse whose importance is clear in our communities, our high streets and our everyday lives," Nicholls commented. "It is one of our fastest growing, most productive industries and last year it delivered one in eight of all new jobs."
The merger comes as the sector faces what Nicholls described as "unprecedented political and regulatory pressures", as well as soaring costs of staffing, food and rents.
Restaurants have been hit particularly hard. This month Jamie's Italian and Byron Burger have both announced plans to close stores due to the harsh trading environment. While restructuring advisers have warned that more restaurant chains could close stores this year after poor Christmas sales.
The ALMR, backed by industry bosses, has previously called for the government to create a hospitality minister to represent the industry, which represents 10 per cent of UK employment and is expected to add another 19,000 jobs to the existing 2m by 2020.