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BII Licensee of the Year 2015

On 12/05/15 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

The British Institute of Innkeeping Licensee of the Year is a much-coveted award. It involves a rigorous process led by two judges; John Sharratt and Ashley McCarthy (a previous winner). This year, there were 96 entrants, and it has been my privilege to be one of the final judges for the past three years. It is inspiring, and not only gives me the opportunity to meet some great licensees, but brings home the challenges they are facing on a day-to-day basis and highlights how we at the BBPA can help.

The final interview process comprises four panels of three, where the six finalists have to answer questions on marketing and business development, finance, people and training and broader industry issues/CSR. The latter was my panel which I chaired with Robert Humphreys and Mark Baird (Diageo). Questions we asked included: ‘what does social responsibility mean to you?’; ‘are you a member of any local partnership scheme?’; ‘is the new statutory pubs code going to affect you at all?’; ‘are you in favour of any further changes to the Licensing Act?’; ‘do you believe for example, that health should become a licensing objective?’; ‘deregulation – is this a priority?’; and ‘how would you see your ambassadorial role if you win?’

There was a mixture of independent, tied and managed licensees amongst the finalists. Several were involved in Pubwatch and Best Bar None; most understood what it meant to be socially responsible and it was good to hear about their views on promotions. For example, not using volume based promotions, not serving drunks (we have a BBPA poster campaign raising awareness of the offence of selling alcohol to drunks, which the BII has kindly agreed to highlight in their next magazine issue) working with local police and local authorities, promoting lower alcohol beers, personal responsibility and the need to ensure customers are able to go home safely.

Not all knew very much about the Statutory Code, but those who were tied felt that there was a real need for the industry to move forward together and to be aware of unintended consequences in the legislation. There was a clear message that any action by police and local authorities, and indeed for any further legislation, should be evidence based. As to their role as ambassadors, the clear career path of working in pubs, professionalism, their role as an employer, and how to have a career in the licensed trade and bring up a family were the key themes.

All of the entrants were passionate about their role in the industry and I hope they will benefit from the experience. They were enthusiastic, genuinely loved their work and I felt that much of their information about the wider world came often from the national information we pass down to our members, who in turn keep their licensees informed.

Without telling too many tales out of school, I almost had the giggles when Robert Humphreys challenged a licensee who had an over-21 policy about what they would do if he brought his 19 year old son into the pub; quick as a flash they replied, if you were to bring your grandson! Robert later admitted that his grandson is only 3, so perhaps he will not be visiting a pub for some time yet!

The winner of the BII Licensee of the Year will be announced at their Annual Lunch on 2nd June.


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