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CEDA unveils first tranche of conference speakers

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L-r: Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality; entrepreneur and speaker, BJ Cunningham; and Martin Vander Weyer, business editor of The Spectator.

CEDA has announced the first few speaker names for its 2019 Conference’s Business Day line-up.

The programme forms the mainstay of the second day of the annual event, this year being held at Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire on 4-5 April.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, was the first speaker unveiled. She was appointed CEO of UKHospitality, the voice representing the broad hospitality sector, in April 2018, having previously worked as CEO and strategic affairs director of the ALMR.

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In April 2018, Nicholls was also appointed chair of the Mayor of London’s Night Time Commission to provide the Mayor with independent advice on London at night. She is also a member of the Events Industry Board, London Food Board, Tourism Industry Council, Cultural Cities Enquiry and London & Partners Members Group. In February 2019, Kate joined the Advisory Board for the Institute for Industrial Strategy.

After gaining a degree in English and a post-graduate diploma in competition law, Nicholls worked as a researcher in the House of Commons and European Parliament before joining Whitbread as government relations manager, starting her career in hospitality in 1993.

She was a director at one of the largest independent public affairs companies, working with a number of hospitality, retail and leisure accounts before establishing her own strategic communications consultancy in 2000. She is a graduate of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and Kings College London.

Adam Mason, CEDA director general, said: “In a very short period of time Kate has driven UK Hospitality to become the leading, authoritative, industry body representing the wider hospitality industry. She is an incredibly impressive person who I have a huge amount of professional admiration for and I am delighted that attendees to our Conference will have the opportunity to meet and listen to her thoughts and views.”

Joining Nicholls will be entrepreneur and speaker, BJ Cunningham and financier Martin Vander Weyer.

Whilst still a teenager, Cunningham started his first enterprise, importing classic cars and Harley Davidsons from LA to London. When the market collapsed, he used his considerable debt to launch DEATH Cigarettes – positioned as ‘The Honest Smoke’. It gained such a foothold that BJ found himself taking on the combined might of the industry in the European Court of Justice.

With a growing reputation for challenging norms, he set up a brand marketing agency and built a client list including Volkswagen, B&O and Nokia. Having sold the company, he and his wife created and ran the luxury shoe designer Georgina Goodman until its acquisition by venture capitalists.

Cunningham is a visiting professor at Brighton University, serves on the council of Business Superbrands and travels the world giving inspiring keynote presentations. He believes that while customers are magnetised towards ‘need’ over ‘want’ in the wake of recession, genuine premium will remain resilient: “Loyalty in business is a long-term relationship, discounting is little more than a one-night stand.”

He believes that a business must know what it stands for, say it with clarity and do what it says. With engaging examples, he shows that customers want to understand the authentic soul of the organisation and become part of its community.

Martin Vander Weyer is business editor of The Spectator, the world’s oldest weekly current affairs magazine. He is also a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph, Literary Review and other national publications.

Before turning his hand to journalism, Vander Weyer spent 15 years as an investment banker in London, Brussels and the Far East – including a spell in Malaysia privatising an airline.

An experienced commentator rather than a technical economist, he feels that a shift of resources from the public sector to the private sector should bear fruit. But he also believes there are many in the City who should examine their consciences.

Vander Weyer is a trustee of Opera North and has written and performed in several plays. Amongst other titles he is also the author of Falling Eagle: the decline of Barclays Bank, Fortune’s Spear, and a collection of columns and articles, Any Other Business: Life in and Out of the City.

CEDA’s Mason added: “I’m delighted that BJ and Martin will be joining us at Conference to impart their respective knowledge, wit and expertise. Over the last few years we have found that the blend of speakers has been crucial in delivering outstanding Business Day content. They will take the audience, momentarily, out of the catering and hospitality industry and give life and business lessons that can be implemented in to businesses across the sector.”

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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