The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the Bar Entertainment & Dance Association (BEDA) have announced plans to merge, creating one trade body representing more than 140 retailers operating more than 11,000 outlets. The combined body would keep the ALMR name, with BEDA’s current chairman John Hayes heading up the late-night division of ALMR and representing those operators at the ALMR Council. The BEDA office in Stockport, Greater Manchester, would become the ALMR office in the north. The proposal must be ratified at a Extraordinary General Meeting of BEDA on 26 April. The ALMR, which represents a broad range of licensed operators, and BEDA, representing nightclub and late-night bar companies, were engaged in talks about a possible merger back in 2007. But the proposal failed, with BEDA members concerned that their influence would be diluted in a group that would be dominated by pub companies. ALMR strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls told M&C Report that since 2007, the trade body has recruited a wider range of members, including casual dining groups and late-night bar operators, so these concerns had dissipated. BEDA chairman John Hayes said: “Since 1952, BEDA, in its various forms, has existed to create a better trading environment for late night operators. Our shared membership and combined expertise mean that BEDA within the ALMR can continue to deliver on that aim. “My priority will be to ensure we present a robust, detailed and compelling response to the proposed stratospheric increases in the PPL Specially Featured Entertainment tariff.” ALMR chairman Steve Richards said: “I am thrilled to see BEDA join forces with our organisation. ALMR already operates across all segments of the market and the new combined group will give us greater strength in depth. “Crucially, for the first time, Government will have one single, clear retail voice to listen to which represents the whole of our vibrant and diverse industry. One trade body dedicated to representing all operator interests – from casual dining to late night bars – not only makes sense, it gives us an informed and effective platform better to influence policy.” BEDA was renamed Noctis a few years ago but reverted to its original name last autumn to campaign against the proposed increases in the SFE fee.