Pandemic was bad but it could have been ‘so much worse’

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Tireless work to help sector: Kate Nicholls of UKHospitality
Tireless work to help sector: Kate Nicholls of UKHospitality

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The pandemic has caused huge suffering throughout the sector but the situation could have been “so much worse” said UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls.

Nicholls made the claim at UKHospitality’s Recover & Beyond conference on Monday 20 September as panellists discussed the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for the industry.

She said: “The pandemic has had a devastating impact on our sector. The past 18 months have seen hospitality lose more than two thirds of its normal revenue, 10% of its businesses and headcount fall by almost 30%. But it is also true the situation could have been so much worse and the team at UKHospitality has worked tirelessly, 24/7, to secure the support the sector needed from Government.”

Rebuild resilience

She continued: “We know it has not been enough to offset the losses but it has undoubtedly saved jobs and livelihoods. Crucially, that support and engagement is continuing beyond reopening and into recovery as we have measures to rebuild resilience.

“We will aim to consolidate the profile the crisis has given the sector as a critical part of the UK economy and the perception of the role we can play as a vital partner with Government to deliver on the broader agenda needed to help UK PLC recover, build back better and stronger.

“With the right support we can get back to doing what we do best – bringing life, light and heart back to our communities – and return to our decade long record of investment and job creation.”

Opportunities from new working model

She also called for additional Government support to help safeguard the sector’s recovery and rebuild resilience in the form of a permanently lower VAT for hospitality and tourism.

Fellow speaker, Paul Scully MP, minister for consumer affairs, SMEs, labour markets and London, promised the Government would continue to listen and engage with the sector while acknowledging hospitality’s recovery was critical to underpinning the UK’s wider economic recovery.

Insight from CGA and STR highlighted the opportunities available for restaurants and bars that included a new hybrid model of people working from home offered a chance of premiumisation in suburban locations.

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