Troubled Welcome to Yorkshire pulls out of food group takeover

Deliciouslyorkshire had hoped to merge with Welcome to Yorkshire before the tourist agency cancelled the deal in June. Pictured, Deliciouslyorkshire's pop-up shop at Leeds Bradford Airport in 2017.
Deliciouslyorkshire had hoped to merge with Welcome to Yorkshire before the tourist agency cancelled the deal in June. Pictured, Deliciouslyorkshire's pop-up shop at Leeds Bradford Airport in 2017.
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Troubled tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire has pulled out of a planned takeover of regional food group Deliciouslyorkshire, citing financial concerns and the ongoing fallout from the scandal-hit departure of ex-chief executive Sir Gary Verity earlier this year.

In April, it was announced that the Harrogate-based Deliciouslyorkshire, which represents hundreds of food and drink businesses, was to “merge operations” with Welcome to Yorkshire in a bid to increase the region’s culinary profile.

The ongoing fallout from the departure of Sir Gary Verity as Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive was cited as a reason for the cancellation of the planned arrangement.

The ongoing fallout from the departure of Sir Gary Verity as Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive was cited as a reason for the cancellation of the planned arrangement.

The intention was that the Deliciouslyorkshire brand would have continued as part of Welcome to Yorkshire as a way of promoting the region’s food and drink businesses.

But in recently-published Welcome to Yorkshire board papers, it has been revealed the deal was cancelled in June, with financial concerns and the ongoing fallout from the scandal-hit departure of ex-chief executive Sir Gary Verity in March cited as reasons.

Minutes said that a discussion between interim chairman Keith Stewart, commercial director Peter Dodd, director of communications Marie Christopher-Davey and North Yorkshire Council leader and WTY board member Carl Les had come to the conclusion “WTY should not go ahead with the acquisition”.

It said there were three reasons for the decision; the liabilities of the Deliciouslyorkshire and their impact on WTY’s balance sheet, the cost of running the organisation and “the impact of bringing DY across at a time when WTY is under pressure”. It added there would be a “huge amount of work to absorb it properly”.

It comes after it separately emerged that Welcome to Yorkshire is in a "challenging" financial position as it waits to find out whether local council leaders will grant it an extra £1m in funding next week.

A spokeswoman for Deliciouslyorkshire said the decision not to go ahead with the deal was “disappointing” but it remains “very happy” to carry on in its own right.

She said: “Deliciouslyorkshire entered into discussions about a possible merger with Welcome To Yorkshire. It was recognised that WTY had been very successful in marketing Yorkshire and raising the profile of the county nationally and internationally. This was seen as a significant potential benefit to DY members in marketing Yorkshire food and drink.

“The discussions were overtaken by other issues WTY had to address and they did not feel able to go ahead.

“Whilst this was disappointing, as a lot of work had gone into identifying possible synergies, DY was very happy to carry on as a successful member-led organisation, specialising in the food & drink sector. DY provides a wide range of services to its members, including the popular Taste Awards which take place in Harrogate in November.

“DY has a good relationship with WTY and looks forward to working with them in the future, if the opportunity arises.”

Keith Stewart, Interim Chair of Welcome to Yorkshire said: “If there is an opportunity to work together in the future that makes sense for Welcome to Yorkshire, we would consider it.”