The Conversation is MCA’s weekly digital event for hospitality leaders. Each week our editorial team are joined by special guests from across the industry to discuss the latest topical issues impacting the sector. In previous weeks we have heard from Kate Nicholls at UKHospitality on her work with government during the covid pandemic, as well as a host of other industry leaders.
You can register for free and download previous instalments of The Conversation below.
22nd March: Hosted by Peter Martin, with panellists Kate Nicholls and Capital Pub Co CEO Clive Watson this session covers all the latest updates from government, as we move through the roadmap to recovery.
15th March: Peter Martin welcomes regular guest Kate Nicholls to the panel for some helpful advice on how best to put pressure on government to assist the hospitality industry’s road to recovery. Contributing panellists this week were William Lees-Jones, MD at JW Lees and Brian Trollip, MD at Dishoom.
8th March: Budget discussions were front and centre in this week’s the Conversation. Peter Martin joins Kate Nicholls, Alex Reilley, Chaiman of the Loungers Group and Scott Matthews, CEO at Covent Garden Restaurants.
1st March: One week on from the PM’s roadmap announcement and in this week’s session Peter Martin joins Kate Nicholls to discuss the practicalities of the announcement on the industry. Joining them were Jon Lake, MD at the Chopstix Group and Kris Gumbrell, CEO at Brewhouse and Kitchen for their unique perspectives on the industry’s recovery phase.
22nd February: This session was recorded whilst the government’s roadmap to recovery was being broadcast. Access the online recording to listen to Peter Martin, Kate Nicholls & Gusto CEO Matt Snell discuss the PM’s plans leading up to the summer.
8th February: Guest host Peter Martin was pleased to welcome entrepreneurs Martin Williams, CEO at Rare Restaurants and Charlie Gilkes, Founder of The Inception Group to the panel this week. They joined Kate Nicholls, UKH CEO to discuss the latest news surrounding the pandemic and key points regarding Brexit.
1st February: Guest host Peter Martin returns for another episode of The Conversation. For this week’s event we were pleased to welcome back regular guestKate Nicholls, CEO at UKH along with returning guest panellist John Eckbert, CEO at Five Guys and Simon Potts, CEO at The Alchemist.
25th January: Guest host Peter Martin welcomed Burger King UK CEO Alasdair Murdoch and Ego Restaurant’s James Horler for a discussion on the brands varying positions througout the pandemic.
18th January: Peter Martin returns as guest host for our popular update event for hospitality leaders. Joining the panel this week was regular guest Kate Nicholls OBE, CEO at UKH, along with Rob Pitcher, CEO of The Revolution Bars Group and Peter Marks, CEO of Rekom UK (formally Deltic) to discuss the state of play for the late-night and wet-led sectors.
11th January: The Conversation returns for the first session of 2021. This week we were delighted to welcome Peter Martin (MCA Contributing Editor and CGA VP) as guest host. Joining him were two OBE recipients, our regular guest Kate Nicholls (CEO at UKH) and hospitality veteran Robin Rowland.
7th December: Finn Scott-Delany, MCA Deputy Editor was joined this week by our regular guest Kate Nicholls, along with Shepherd Neame CEO Jonathan Neame and Swingers CEO Matt Grech-Smith for a conversation around Christmas trading and a view in to early 2021.
30th November: This week’s Conversation delved in to the specific challenges being faced by the pub industry during the pandemic, with panellists Nick Mackenzie (Greene King CEO) and Clive Chesser (Punch Pubs CEO) offering their insight, along with Kate Nicholls, UKH CEO.
23rd November: MCA Deputy Editor, Finn Scott-Delany hosted this week’s Conversation, in advance of a poignant update from the PM on his ‘winter plan’. Joined by UKH CEO Kate Nicholls, MCA Contributing Editor Peter Martin and Imbiba Partner Darrel Connell, we discussed the likely new restrictions in the PM’s plans and what these might mean for the sector over the Christmas trading period.
16th November: James Halliwell hosted this session, along with Kate Nicholls, CEO at UKHospitality. They discussed the likelihood of another EAT Out to Help Out campaign from government, along with the potential of an extension to the VAT cut in to Spring 2021. Joining Kate and James this week was Jens Hofma, CEO at Pizza Hut, for his second appearance on The Conversation. Jens contributed unique insight in to the challenged being faced by a multi-site operator during the crisis. Finally, Stephen Finch, founder of Vagabond Wines completed the panel. Formerly of Deloitte, Stephen’s London-based concept was due to open its 10th site in Principal Place, Bishopsgate before the virus struck.
9th November: This session was hosted by MCA Deputy Editor Finn Scott-Delany, who was pleased to welcome back Kate Nicholls UKH CEO and Hugh Osmond, Director of Various Eateries. Hugh Osmond was the original founder of Punch Taverns and took Pizza Express public in 1993. The entrepreneur acquired Strada in 2014 via his Sun Capital Partners vehicle, and founded upmarket all-day brand Coppa Club. Hugh has forthright views on the lockdown measures, using a recent Daily Mail opinion piece to warn government, after it announced a second national lockdown, that Christmas is already over in the hospitality sector, and that many hospitality venues will never reopen.
2nd November: This week’s session followed the announcement of a second lockdown for England, to begin on 5th November. Kate Nicholls joined James Halliwell to discuss the new guidelines and the likely impact on the sector. This week they were also joined by Karl Chessel, CGA’s Business Unit Director for Food and Retail who shared his insight on what CGA’s tracker is demonstrating about the regional impacts of trading in higher tier areas. Completing the panel was Thom Elliot, co-founder of Pizza Pilgrims, whose early response to the covid-19 outbreak helped their business weather the storm during the lockdown period.
26th October: MCA Editor James Halliwell welcomed Night Time Advisor for Greater Manchester, Sacha Lord to this week’s Conversation, to discuss the perception of a north/south divide, created by government across the industry. Sharing his experiences of the pandemic in the South West was Mitch Tonks, CEO of popular Rockfish chain of restaurants and award winning chef. Completing the panel this week was Emma McClarkin, CEO at the British Bar & Pub Association, contributing her insights in to the future of wet led businesses in the UK.
19th October: For this session, Finn Scott-Delany, MCA Deputy Editor was joined by UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls, to discuss the impact of the new tier structure for hospitality leaders. We were also pleased to welcome back to The Conversation, Alchemist CEO Simon Potts for his second session with us. Also joining the panel was Matt Farrell, Co-Founder and Director of the 10-strong, Liverpool bar group Graffiti Spirits.
12th October: For our 29th weekly update James Halliwell, MCA Editor welcomed back Kate Nicholls who looped us in on the latest announcements from government. Attendees had the opportunity to ASK questions on the new three-tiered lockdown structure and gained some further insihts on how this might affect the industry.
Joining Kate and James was Leon Managing Director Shereen Ritchie, who spoke about how the business has been adapting to meet new consumer needs during the pandemic. The final member of the panel was Ashton Crosby, Managing Director of Capdesia, the investor behind Wasabi to discuss F2G during lockdown and beyond.
5th October: For this week’s session, James Halliwell, MCA Editor welcomed Clare Clough, Managing Director at Pret, along with John Diviney, CEO of Welcome Break to discuss the challenges being faced by these two diverse businesses.
28th September: James Halliwell, MCA’s Editor, was joined by two leaders who have campaigned tirelessly to support our sector: UKHospitality’s Kate Nicholls and Oakman Inns’ Peter Borg-Neal, as well as MCA’s contributing editor, and original founder, Peter Martin.
As ever, the event kicks off with Kate Nicholls updating us on her conversations with government, followed by commentary from our two panellists.
21st September: During this session Finn Scott-Delany spoke with Kate Nicholls, UKH CEO to discuss the growing infection rate of Covid-19 in the UK and the potential impact of local and national lockdowns for the hospitality industry. Joining Kate was Mark Fox, CEO at Roadchef, along with James Nye, Managing Director at Anglian Country Inns, bringing their own unique insight to the discussions.
James Nye runs premium family-run operator, Anglian Country Inns, which was founded by his father Cliff more than 20 years ago. The East of England collection of 10 sites and a microbrewery includes the award-winning The White Horse Inn on the North Norfolk coast, while James’ brother Howard is the company’s operations director.
Mark Fox has been CEO of Roadchef since 2018. He can offer an informed perspective of the impact of the current crisis upon diverse trading operations in our sector, given his previous senior roles as MD of Pizza Hut Delivery, CEO of Pizza Hut UK, MD of Starbucks and CEO of Bill’s.
14th September: For this session, Finn Scott-Delany, MCA Deputy Editor was joined by Charlie Gilkes, CEO of the Inception Group and Martin Williams, CEO of Rare Restaurants.
Charlie Gilkes is joint founder and CEO of Inception Group, an award-winning group of eclectic experiential venues including Bunga Bunga, Barts, Cahoots and Mr Fogg’s.
Martin Williams leads Rare Restaurants the eponymous M Restaurants and 16 Gauchos. The group includes award-winning restaurants, destination bars, members lounges, private dining and events spaces.
Multiple award-winning Deltic Group is the UK’s largest operator of late night bars and clubs. This segment of our sector is under extreme pressure, awaiting clear guidance for a reopening date. Peter Marks is a respected sector leader of long experience and has led the business as CEO since 2011.
Roger Wade originally launched BoxPark as a pop-up retail mall in Shoreditch, before evolving the concept into more of a food and drink proposition in Croydon and then Wembley. With several more sites and formats in the pipeline, Roger also founded British Streetwear brand Boxfresh.
24th August: This week we welcomed Steve Moore, co-founded competitive socialising darts concept Flight Club along with Gusto MD Matt Snell to The Conversation. Hosted by MCA Editor James Halliwell, with guest speaker Kate Nicholls, we discussed opportunities in the sector post EOHO.
17th August: Finn Scott-Delany was joined this week by seasoned hospitality leader David Page, Chairman of Fulham Shore which operated Franco Manca and The Real Greek. Former Pizza Express chief executive David Page recently said sales at his 64 sites soared by up to 48 per cent in the first week of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme. In a recent Mail on Sunday piece he also said that Britain has too many restaurants, criticising especially the private equity backed, debt fuelled model of the larger chains. Use the link below to download his conversation with MCA contributing editor, Peter Martin.
10th August: During this session, Finn Scott-Delany, MCA Deputy Editor updated us on topic issues affecting the sector in August. He was joined by two highly regarded sector commentators, panellists Graeme Smith, MD at Alix Partners and William Lees-Jones, MD of JW Lees, a family owned national brewer, operating 150 pubs, primarily in its heartland of NW England and N Wales.
3rd August: There was plenty to discuss at this session, including new restrictions in Greater Manchester and other areas, the launch day of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, and government advisors suggesting in the press that pubs should perhaps shut again, to help schools re-open from September. Join James Halliwell with special guests Karen Bosher, MD at Greene King, Ian Edward Non-Exec Director at Thunderbird Fried Chicken, Pizza Pilgrims and Hippo Inns, along with Kate Nicholls, CEO at UKH.
27th July: Finn Scott-Delany, MCA Deputy Editor welcomed Alastair Darby, CEO of S.A. Brain, Richard Morris, CEO of Tortilla and Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality for a discussion on different approaches to reopening the industry across the UK.
20th July: During this week’s event James was joined for a lively discussion with Kate Nicholls and expert panellists Rob Pitcher, CEO of Revolution Bars Group and John Eckbert, CEO at Five Guys.
13th July: This week MCA’s editor James Halliwell was joined once again by Kate Nicholls, who updated us with the latest she is hearing from government, following Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement to support the hospitality industry with a £30bn recovery plan. We were also pleased to be joined by panellist Simon Potts, CEO at The Alchemist and MCA Contributing Editor, Peter Martin.
6th July: During this session MCA Deputy Editor Finn Scott-Delany welcomed Peter Borg-Neal, CEO at Oakman Inns and Jo Fleet, CEO at Flat Iron to the panel, who joined Kate Nicholls at UKH to discuss their experiences on reopening weekend and their thoughts on the future of the industry.
29th June: For this session, MCA’s editor James Halliwell was joined by UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls, as well as panellists Jens Hofma, CEO at Pizza Hut and Jonathan Neame, CEO at Shepheard Neame.