Popular Kingston publicans announced as finalists of the BII’s Licensee of the Year Awards


Michael Pearson and Charlotte Salaman, licensees of The Wych Elm in Kingston upon Thames [93 Elm Rd, Kingston upon Thames KT2 6HT], have been shortlisted as one of six finalists in the BII’s Licensee of the Year Award.

The Wych Elm, a Fuller’s pub nestled in North Kingston, is at the heart of its community. Michael and Charlotte are committed to offering their neighbourhood, and its visitors, quality food and drink – alongside excellent customer service.

The BII Licensee of the Year Awards is the most prestigious award in the industry for an individual licensee or partnership. Judging of the BII’s Licensee of the Year Award is rigorous, looking at every aspect of the business – including finances, marketing, sustainability, training and development, and impact on the local community.

Nominated licensees were required to complete their BII Licensee of the Year Award entry forms. These forms are an opportunity for the publicans to present their business to the BII. This can include – but is not limited to – providing evidence of supporting their local community; information on staff wellbeing; their staff recruitment and retention processes; evidence of understanding their customers and how their offers reflect this; and their investment in the business.

Quarter finalist licensees were then chosen – this year, 51 quarter finalists were selected from 300 entrants – and were subject to thorough judging, undertaken by industry experts. Judging included a financial review, social media and website audits, and a mystery diner visit. The strongest entries went through to the semi-final stage who then received a visit from BII judges. The six finalists will take part in a judging day, where they will be interviewed by three panels individually – with a focus on finance, operations, marketing, team development and more. This will take place the day before the winner is announced. The judges then decide upon the ultimate winner.

The winner of Licensee of the Year 2022 will be crowned at the BII’s Summer Event on Tuesday 21 June.

Charlotte Salaman, licensee of The Wych Elm, said: “We’re thrilled to have made it to the final six of the BII’s Licensee of the Year competition. There are over 45,000 pubs in the UK, of which 300 entered this competition – so to be in the final six is a fantastic feeling. Michael and I have committed to offering our local community the perfect pub and being listed as a finalist means our hard work is paying off. It’s a privilege to have got this far – having been judged by the industry’s experts. I’m looking forward to the Summer Event regardless of the competition outcome. But, of course, winning would be the icing on the cake.”

Iain Rippon, Fuller’s Director of Tenanted Pubs, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Michael and Charlotte. Their hard work and dedication to their pub, team and community shines through as soon as you step foot in The Wych Elm. This is well deserved recognition and I look forward to hearing the final outcome from the BII.”

Steven Alton, BII CEO commented: “Our Licensee of the Year Award is the most prestigious and hard-fought award, showing the excellence in our sector. The final six are of an incredible standard.

“I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all involved and wish them the best of luck for the final stages of the competition.”

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