Sponsored by Sky, the Licensee of the Year competition is a long-standing award that has been held annually for more than 20 years.
The finalists have made it through the early stages of the comprehensive entry process, competing against more than 200 other entrants who also entered the competition.
The final 16 include licensees from across the breadth of the UK, from many different types of pubs.
The 2017 Licensee of the Year semi-finalists are as follows:
- Paul Wiscombe – The Anchor Inn, Bridport
- Nicola Storey – The Mustard Pot, Leeds
- Martin Barnes – Geroge and Dragon, Cheshire
- Mark and Clare Higgs – Castle at Edgehill, Edgehill
- Clive Price – Bletchingly Arms, Redhill
- Chantelle Tupman-John – Waggon Inn, Oldham
- Tim Tomlinson – Merchants 1688, Lancashire
- Jennifer Kuhn – The Windsor Fenchurch, London
- Mark Anderson – Ruddington Arms, Ruddington
- Ian Ridley – The Highlands, Uckfield
- Mark Thornhill – The Kings Head, Hursley
- Tania Irwin – The Princess Royal, Farnham
- Roland and Kay Keech – The Castle, Bedford
- Gavin and Carole Austin – George and Dragon, Arundel
- Hendrik and Dutson – The White Horse, Banbury
- Sam Good – The West Bay Hotel, Bridport
Ashley McCarthy, chair of the judging panel and himself a former winner of Licensee of the Year, said: “The standard of entries is higher than it’s ever been in all the years I’ve been involved; it has been very difficult to get down to even this list of 16. I’m very much looking forward to seeing these pubs in person and getting to know the semi-finalists”.
What happens next
After their pub 'road trip', the judges will select six entrants to go through to the final Panel Judging Day on 12 June, where they will be put through their paces by industry experts in three areas; marketing and business development, financial awareness and people development.
All six finalists will be presented with a trophy at the BII Summer Event on 13 June, where the winner of Licensee of the Year 2017 will be crowned.
BII chief executive Mike Clist said: “I would like to reiterate what Ashley has said, the standard of entries this year has been second to none. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who entered the competition this year and wish the semi-finalists good luck for the final”.
Sky Business managing director David Rey added: "We sponsor the BII Licensee of the Year Award because we recognise the importance of rewarding outstanding licensees for the tireless work they do to support the on-trade. Congratulations to all those that have been nominated as semi-finalists.”
As was the case last year, people working in the licensed trade were encouraged to not only register themselves but also nominate others.
The BII said it has been "delighted" with the result, seeing customers, colleagues, pub companies, breweries and fellow operators all nominating their favourite local.