Simon Emeny, the chief executive of Fuller’s has set out his priorities for his term as chairman of the British Beer & Pub Association.

He told MCA that the BBPA had a key role to play in challenging the Government over “stealth taxes” on the sector and tackling the perception of hospitality as a short-term career option.

He said Brexit would throw up significant challenges for the sector, most notably around recruitment, but he added that there could also be positive impacts of the divorce from the EU, particularly for the brewing industry.

Emeny was unveiled as the next BBPA chairman at the group’s annual general meeting yesterday, replacing Heineken UK managing director David Forde.

He said: “I am delighted to be taking on this role. Industry-wide issues have never been more important in our sector as we face the pressures of high taxation and the upcoming challenges of Brexit. Our work on all these issues supports a hugely positive agenda – as an industry, we are investing in and opening new pubs, alongside major investment in the brewing industry. Overall, we support around 900,000 UK jobs. There are so many issues where the BBPA plays a vital role, and I look forward to working with Brigid and the team.”

On specific areas of focus for the BBPA, Emeny said: “The next two years are clearly going to be dominated by Brexit and all the questions that throws up, not least the potential for a skills shortage. We have a lot of work to do to set our view clearly to the Government over the huge challenges this creates for a sector that is a major employer.

“We also have a responsibility to promote the sector as not just a viable but an attractive long-term career prospect for young people. That is about communicating the changes the sector has undergone in recent years and how incredibly professional it is now. This is an industry where there is huge potential for career development and we probably don’t make enough of that. There is also lots of work we can do around apprenticeships and showing prospective employees from a young age how diverse and exciting this business is.

“In terms of messages to Government, the key one is that the business rates system is not fit for purpose and needs root and branch reform not another sticking plaster. The current rules were designed before the internet and simply do not reflect the way people live and businesses work in 2017.

“Our over-arching message is that this sector has been subject to ever-increasing stealth taxes for many years now and it needs to stop. The Government should be supporting an industry that is driving growth and creating jobs. One way it can do that is through cuts to beer duty.”

However, he said that a cut to VAT was not his top priority, saying: “There are a lot of sectors that would like to see a cut in VAT and I would certainly welcome that, particularly when it comes to food in pubs, but we have to be realistic about the Government’s priorities.”

Outgoing chairman David Forde said: “Many congratulations to Simon. I know he will find the role a very rewarding challenge, and will help to steer the industry through uncertain times. As well as tackling the vital agenda of high taxation, we must ensure the industry has the investment and skills it needs to grow and thrive, and the BBPA’s membership will enthusiastically support Simon as our new Chairman.”

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “I congratulate Simon and look forward to working closely with him. He has already made a big contribution to the work of the BBPA, and we all look forward to supporting him in this new role.

“I want also to thank David Forde, who has been an outstanding Chairman and has found so much time for the BBPA within his much wider responsibilities. I know he will continue to support the association’s agenda.”

In further new appointments, William Lees-Jones, managing director of JW Lees & Co and Julian Momen, chief executive of Carlsberg UK Ltd have been appointed as BBPA board members.