Kate Nicholls OBE speaks at Northern Restaurant and Bar 2024

NDML attended an interview with Kate Nicholls OBE, CEO of UKHospitality.

The Northern Restaurant and Bar Exhibition took place in Manchester Central and featured some of the top chefs and distributors in the sector. The event brings together 9,600 visitors and 300 exhibits, of which NDML was one. Also featured were speakers who discussed a range of issues and challenges. Kate Nicholls OBE, key speaker at the event, did an exclusive interview and Q&A with the audience.

Here are some of the Top talking points which Kate Nicholls was asked to discuss at the event:

Investment in Transport

I’m not sure anyone’s noticed but even without the train strikes, the UK’s, and particularly the North’s, railways are shocking. Yet, they are the main link between the major cities in the North.

Train strikes are making headlines, but in reality they are resulting in about a 20% drop in capacity for hospitality. We need better investment in our trainlines as a whole, that’s the major issue.”

Staff shortages

A huge challenge that’s been faced by late night venue owners is staff shortages. There needs to be a real drive for young people to see hospitality as a career. In no other industry can you work part-time or temporarily while doing your studies, and then in three four five years become a manager on £50k. Hospitality offers amazing opportunities to young people if they let it.”

I remember I was at one of my daughter’s schools, and a mother there was pushing her child into going to university even though they were learning to become a pastry chef. You and I and those in the industry know pastry chefs are like hen’s teeth, and she could have walked into any top restaurant or hotel in London.

“There are huge benefits to hospitality as a career – shift patterns, variable hours. The Hospitality Rising campaign did a really good job of reflecting that. As a result of that campaign, we saw it reached 25% of all 18-25 year olds, and consequently provoked 20,000 job applications.”

Digital skills passport

We are looking at further launching the digital skills passport for hospitality with DWP Digital Careers. These digital qualifications and accredited training sees an 85% conversion into jobs and apprenticeships. The digital skill s passport needs to be further developed and marketed, offering stages across all levels of the sector for people to progress and be recognised by business owners.”

According to news outlets, The government-backed programme will provide training from industry experts and give jobseekers a “Hospitality Skills Passport”, a digital pass which can demonstrate aptitude to employers.

The Department for Work and Pensions, which has partnered with UKHospitality to deliver the training, said – “those who complete the hospitality sector-based Work Academy Programme would be guaranteed an interview and a pathway to apprenticeships.”

Learn more about the Hospitality Skills Passport from UKHospitality here.

Hospitality Business’s Revenue and Footfall

During the Q&A period, Kate Nicolls was asked by a member of the audience about the statistics of hospitality businesses, particularly the months of November, December, January and February in turnover comparative to 2023.

It’s clear that hospitality has not recovered to pre-COVID levels. Operators are about 88% – 94% worse off and that’s for both revenue and footfall. But as we know, in the winter months, the numbers fluctuate so much – especially recently.”

Political Leanings

Another question from the audience asked which party are better for hospitality, Labour or Conservative.

UKHospitality is politically neutral. We can look at the proposed policies but it’s clear there is no money, we know there isn’t. And it’s too expensive to make the needed changes.

Ideally, for hospitality, the best party is a party with a large majority.”

Is a VAT Reduction possible?

We talked to Rachel Reeves who has bee pushing this issue with us. It’s so important that everyone in the sector is laser focussed on one message. We need to push for VAT to be reduced to 10%.

At NDML, we are fully behind this call for VAT to be reduced to 10%. See our interview with the Sacha Lord who has been discussing govenrment policy at the NRB event.

What can hospitality businesses do to save money?

Look into refinancing, pay attention to the interest rates and this could save you in the long term. Assess your energy provider, there are better deals out there. Talk to your landlords. All of these things can go along way to saving your business money.”

At NDML we work to support venues and hospitality operators. We understand that insurance and risk management is just another of the many challenges currently facing nightlife owners. We want to make insurance and the claims process as smooth as possible.

To learn more about NDML, and how we can take worries away from you, get in touch.