The new Licensees of the Year have told M&C Report that their success shows how wet-led pubs can thrive if they offer customers an experience.

Keith and Diane Marsden, of the Prince of Wales in Mosley, Birmingham, were crowned at yesterday’s British Institute of Innkeeping Summer Event & Annual Lunch.

They told M&C Report: “Food is not a silver bullet. Serving beer well is a lot simpler than serving food well. If you are average at serving beer what on earth makes you think you are going to be any good at serving food.

“You have to create an experience for the customers. Your personality has to be a key part of your business because that is what keeps them coming back.”

The couple said they have worked hard to make their garden a core part of their offer, with the inclusion of a dedicated wine offering and a ‘cigar shed’.

The couple said their commitment to training and developing their team had been key to their success.

Speaking at the Summer Event, Stephen Glancey, chief executive of main sponsor C&C Group, also announced that the BII are bringing back the National Innkeeping Training Awards (the NITAs) this autumn. To mark this, Stephen presented an inaugural NITA award, the Franca Knowles Live your Life Award in honour of Beds & Bars people development champion, Franca Knowles, who sadly passed away in November 2014. The award was presented to her husband Keith and their daughter Chesca.

Other awards presented on the day were:

SABMiller Scholars Programme Award sponsored by SAB Miller - winner Emily Whewall

Jeremy Allen Award sponsored by Poppleston Allen – winner Mark Thornhill

Beer Sommelier of the Year Award sponsored by The Institute of Brewing & Distilling – winner Rod Jones

Fundraiser of the Year sponsored by PubAid – winner Nigel & Sue Anstead

Apprentice of the Year sponsored by Fuller, Smith & Turner – winner Neringa Markeviciute