Publican Awards

In pictures: The Publican Awards 2020 winners

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

That winning feeling: James Staughton OBE of St Austell Brewery took home the night's Outstanding Industry Contribution award
That winning feeling: James Staughton OBE of St Austell Brewery took home the night's Outstanding Industry Contribution award

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The pub sector raised a glass to its best and brightest across 18 categories at the 2020 Publican Awards in another glitzy industry Oscars. Here's a look at who took home what.

The best pub and bar operators celebrated success with almost 1,500 people from the sector and comedian Rob Beckett at The Publican Awards 2020​ with a broad mix of pub companies taking home titles across 18 categories. 

Here’s a run-down of who won what:

Best Premium Food Offer – Anglian Country Inns

With more than 24 years under its belt, Anglian Country Inns has certainly not allowed its food offer to go stale and continues to invest in exciting menus and an innovative offer which has helped to deliver strong sales growth.

A strong framework of support from head office allows individual chefs their own autonomy and allows them to exercise their creativity with great flair.


Best Pub Brand/Concept – Hickory’s

Conducting extensive research prior to launch, this is a business that hit the ground running and now is growing at an impressive pace across the north-west and Midlands.

Hickory's is a brand that has created a fantastic fusion of community focused, sport-led pubs with an outstanding food offer which offers a little something to please everyone.


Best Community Pub Operator – Craft Union Pub Company

Craft Union has pretty much exploded out of nowhere in the last few years and is now one of the fastest growing operations in the sector and one many are watching.

It is a business that has really carved out a niche in the wet-led community space, providing superb operations that have gone on to become the beating hearts of the communities they serve.

Craft Union

Best Pub Employer (501+ employees) – Stonegate Pub Company

Winning this award for the second year on the spin is no mean feat, and Stonegate really impressed the judges by continuing to build on the successes of last year.

Stonegate is a company that continues to invest heavily into its team and deliver best-in-class employee practices that would be impressive in any sector.


Best Late Night Operator – Inception Group

Inception Group is a business which judges said was redefining the late night category. The levels of innovation within the company were impressive, with Inception Group offering immersive experiences across it’s collection of differently themed operations.

With two new recent openings and an interest to expand beyond the capital, this is a business that shows no signs of slowing down.


Best Drinks Offer – Cirrus Inns

Cirrus Inns manages to get the best of both worlds, with a centrally-led approach providing strong leadership and consistency, while also allowing flexibility to site managers to allow for an individual approach to each operation, which has allowed it to create an award-winning combination.


Best Managed Pub Company (51+ sites) – Mitchell & Butlers brand Nicholson’s

Nicholson's has taken on the challenging headwinds surrounding the pub sector and emerged stronger than ever.

Employee relations are impressive with a strong focus on wellbeing and the business has worked hard to deliver a first-rate customer experience which is really starting to pay off across the board.


Best Brewing Pub Company – North Brewing Co

A previous winner of this award, North Brewing Co continues to set standards for others to follow.

Their passion for their product is clear to see and is infectious, coupled with their long experience operating award winning bars in Leeds makes them an award winning combination that is hard to beat.


Best Food Offer – Liberation Group

With sites spanning the West Country and across to the Channel Islands, the Liberation Group is a business that takes its food seriously.

Fantastic menus and an impressive approach to sourcing and sustainability has made this pub group really stand out in a hugely competitive space and allowed them to retain their crown from last year’s competition – no mean feat indeed.

Liberation Group

Best New Pub/Bar – Head of Steam, Leeds – Camerons Brewery

A new flagship venue for Cameron’s, judges felt the team had near-perfectly devised and executed an ambitious concept.

After transforming a huge former bank-building with new branding and nods to Leeds’ industrial heritage, the company has been brave in bringing a huge range of craft beer, entertainment, competitive socialising and a vegan friendly food offer under one roof.

Head of Steam

Best Tenanted/Leased Pub Company (501+ sites) – Punch Pubs & Co

With new leadership and a smaller estate following the deal with Star, Punch has emerged as a leaner more focused operation that is really punching above its weight.

Innovation within Punch is off the scale and this is an operation that isn’t afraid to push boundaries and try new things in the tenanted space.


Best Tenanted/Leased Pub Company (up to 500 sites) – Shepherd Neame

One of the oldest breweries in the country, Shepherd Neame has spent the last few years revitalising its pub estate and are now reaping the rewards.

Relationships with its licensees are outstanding and there’s a strong focus on ensuring the division of profit is firmly in the favour of the pub operators. This is a company that is really delivering for its tenants in a hugely competitive market.

Shepherd Neame

Best Managed Pub Company (2-50 sites) – Urban Pub and Bars

Having a number of sites in one city that have completely different concepts but fundamentally operate in the same way is no mean feat, however, Urban Pubs and Bars manages to do so and more.

While this isn’t a new operation, it has really ramped up its presence over the past three years, all the while, evolving with the changing times and challenges.


Business Leader of the Year – Simon Emeny, Fuller’s

Fuller's chief executive Emeny picked up Business Leader of the Year for driving one of the more surprising and impressive deals of recent years.

Simon Emeny

Best Sustainable Pub Company – Greene King

Judges were impressed with the seriousness of all the finalists when it came to taking a sustainable approach to their businesses. However, the intensity and impressive strides that Greene King had made within such a large business in a short space of time really made them stand out.

Greene King has not let its size get in the way of implementing real change within its business.

Greene King

Best Pub Operations Team – Hippo Inns

Hippo Inns has developed a first class people culture over the past year, effectively bringing the company’s most senior and junior staff members closer together.

The business successfully showcased the strong working relationships its ops team has fostered and demonstrated a creative streak when it comes to staff training and management.


Best Accommodation Operator - Brakspear

Tackling strong competition against a talented field, Brakspear’s consistent approach and high standards to providing first-rate pub accommodation allowed it to edge ahead of the pack.

This is a family-run pub company that is not resting on its laurels and continues to innovate and develop to drive its offer forward.


Best Pub Employer (up to 500 employees) – The Inn Collection Group

With an impressively low staff turnover and people clamouring to work for them, the Inn Collection Group are not resting on their laurels and continue to drive forward in investing time, energy and money into the team.

This is a company that genuinely cares about its people and impressed judges with its commitment to continue to deliver for its teams, allowing it to retain its crown for a second year running.

Inn Collection

Outstanding Industry Contribution – James Staughton OBE, St Austell

With his leadership spanning more than two decades, James Staughton has delivered outstanding growth and success to a traditional family business - turning them into a regional powerhouse.

Under his tenure, he’s done deals which have seen the business expand out of its heartland and reinvigorated its beer offer to create award winning products which have gathered wide-spread acclaim.

As the fifth generation of a family business, at a time when traditional brewers faced some of their toughest challenges, Staughton has embodied a spirit that embraces change while holding true to original values.

James Staughton

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