follow us: @_EalingNews
call us: 07488 352 974
email us: news@ealing.news

Ealing and Acton Business Club meets UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls at breakfast meeting

With 90% of the UK’s hospitality sector revealing they are waiting on planning decisions that are outside the statutory timeframe, there is an urgent need to “accelerate that process”, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls OBE told a gathering of business people at the latest Ealing and Acton Business Club breakfast meeting that took place at University of West London’s Pillars Restaurant today (2 March 2023).

The event was hosted by Dr Suresh Gamlath, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business Development) at University of West London. Dr Gamlath was formerly Dean of the Claude Littner Business School.

University of West London Dr Suresh Gamlath, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business Development).

Dr Gamlath welcomed the guests and said: “I’m delighted to be welcoming you all at our University. Especially at our legendary I should say, College of Hospitality and Tourism, and especially given the fact that our keynote speaker Kate Nicholls so it’s only fitting that we’re here and we are enjoying the wonderful hospitality.”

He added: “The business community in Ealing and Acton has always been a very close part of our community. I’m sure that that we are part of your community and there’s a lot that the university can offer you. We have a very vibrant offering of apprenticeships and we work with a number of large, medium sized and small businesses. Apprenticeships signifies a partnership in skills the university has with local business communities in bringing about productivity and skills and innovation through training and education.”

Chairman of Ealing and Acton Business Club, Councillor Julian Gallant introduces UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls OBE
Chairman of Ealing and Acton Business Club, Councillor Julian Gallant introduces UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls OBE

Chairman of Ealing and Acton Business Club, Councillor Julian Gallant, introduced Ms Nicholls who also took questions from the businesses that were attending the breakfast meeting.

Over recent years, Ms Nicholls has come to be known as the face of the hospitality industry across the UK. Speaking on behalf of the sector, Ms Nicholls championed it throughout Covid by making the government aware of the issues and concerns. And now post-Covid, Ms Nicholls is speaking to government to ensure that hospitality across the UK is supported so it can grow.

Ms Nicholls said: “We have 700 member companies and between them they operate 100,000 outlets across the UK. That is roughly 95% of the market for hospitality businesses in the UK. This year, we’ve just got the latest stats, we have now recovered back to pre COVID levels of revenue and pre COVID levels of employment. So we are £136bn industry. We are bigger than aerospace, automotive and pharmaceuticals put together. We are made up of 70% SMEs, which is why you don’t tend to think about us as being as big and as important. That generates 39 billion pounds worth of tax to the exchequer funding vital public services.”

But following Covid and a bouncing back, things remain tough, not just with recruiting staff and financing, but also in working with authorities to get planning and licencing permission for premises.

Ms Nicholls revealed to a packed audience of more than 100 people, that of those waiting more than the statutory timeframe, half of them are “outstanding for 40 weeks.”

She said: “We can’t do planning and investments. So you just need to accelerate that process and if they are small scale developments, which will boost growth and boost jobs, we need to just get them through the system as quickly as we can.”

Ms Nicholls, who also lives in Ealing, gave her views on what she sees as the issues locally and says it is very similar across the country.

“You just have to walk around Ealing borough and the main towns within it to see the challenges we’ve got.  We’ve got development that opened up in anticipation of good times and a benign economic climate and they are remaining empty. And that is a big challenge because nobody wants to come out and see loads of empty shops, empty sites and there isn’t that supportive ecosystem.

“So we do need the planners and the licencing authority to be able to think outside the box and think creatively about how you can get businesses in to fill those sites. And that may well be some of the new law that’s coming through that the government is looking at with empty property rental auctions. So you can get pop ups and you can get small scale businesses in just to fill those sites. But that has to be the priority. Getting those sites open because hoardings are not attractive for anybody and people are just going to go elsewhere.”

Ms Nicolls also commented on FilmWorks and Dickins Yard in Ealing Broadway. She said: “It’s a huge problem and you don’t get people who are walking through because they think the development remains still empty. You can see what happened in Dickens Yard when that that was left for many years without lots of footfall going through and lots of traffic.

“So you’ve got local plans and local licencing plans that were probably done in 2017, 2018 and 2019 with the best of intentions and the world has changed.

“The world of work has changed, consumers have changed and we just need to make sure that our planning and licencing regimes keep pace so they need to be refreshed and we need to have a more positive approach and on planning.

“90% of hospitality businesses say they have planning decisions that are outstanding for more than the statutory timeframe. Half of those are outstanding for 40 weeks. 40 weeks is an entire season. We can’t do planning and investments. So you just need to accelerate that process and if they are small scale developments, which will boost growth and boost jobs, we need to just get them through the system as quickly as we can.

Following Ms Nicholls,  Trisha Stewart from Ealing and Acton Business Club gave an update to guests on latest news or new members joining, events taking place and highlighted member Goview London estate agents who donated seven Amazon Fire devices to Ealing Trailfinders Foundation which is being given to Featherstone school in Southall.

Paul Harty of Goview London estate agents donating 7 Amazon Fire tablets to Trailfinders Foundation to give to Featherstone school in Southall
Paul Harty of Goview London estate agents donating 7 Amazon Fire tablets to Trailfinders Foundation to give to Featherstone school in Southall

As in previous events, both before and after the breakfast meeting, attendees mingled and networked sharing their contact details and connecting.

One attendee told EALING.NEWS: “It was great to be here today and to hear what Kate Nicholls had to say. It was my first time here and it’s been a brilliant way to connect with so many local people who have got great businesses.”

Are you an Ealing resident with a story to share? Or spotted something we should know about?
Get in touch with us by emailing: news@ealing.news or tweet us on Twitter @_EalingNews

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE TO THE EALING.NEWS NEWSLETTER

GET OUR GREAT NEWS, FEATURES, REVIEWS AND MORE DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX

SUPPORT JOURNALISM IN EALING

LATEST EALING.NEWS UPDATES

MORE FROM EALING.NEWS