The BII Licensee of the Year winner has been unveiled, Justine Lorriman from The Royal Dyche in Burnley beat off stiff competition from five other finalists to be named as the champion!

The BII licensee of the year award is widely regarded as the most rigorous and hard-fought award for individual licensee operators in the UK. Since January 2024, operators from across the UK have been whittled down from a field of over 300 nominations, all vying to become the next BII Licensee of the Year winner.

Excelling across all areas of the competition, Justine faced incredibly tough competition from the five other finalists, from a diverse range of business models and experience, with her performance on the final judging day seeing her take the top spot.

Taking on her pub 11 years ago, it was originally called The Princess Royal, but a joke on a chalkboard eventually saw the pub change to The Royal Dyche in 2018, immortalising Burnley FC’s then manager Sean Dyche.

With Justine at the helm, the business has been transformed into a pivotal local landmark and a hub of inclusivity, where customers from across the community can come together in a safe and welcoming space. Despite football being a key feature of The Royal Dyche, the events and other occasions that the pub supports, mean that match days are no longer their busiest times, with festivals, live music and charity fundraising bringing in customers from far and wide.

Justine’s dedication to transforming her pub into the centre of her community and the pride she takes in it are summed up in her own words: “At the Royal Dyche, you’re not just a face in the crowd; you are a valued member of my sports-loving family.”

Steve Alton, Chief Executive of the BII commented:
“I’d like to offer a massive congratulations to Justine on behalf of myself and the whole team here at the BII, including our fantastic judges. This is the most rigorous and intense competition in our industry, so I would like to also congratulate our other wonderful finalists on this incredible achievement. This year more than ever, we saw incredible diversity across the operators and business models represented by our finalists, proving once again how much the great British pub has to offer in every community across the UK.”

“Justine’s leadership, innovation and tenacity as an operator is simply inspirational. She represents everything that is uniquely brilliant about our industry, and we can’t wait to share the excellence and experience from her, and all our finalists over the coming year.”

The BII would also like to thank everyone who entered this year’s competition. Despite the huge challenges they continue to face. Their tenacity and sheer determination for continued excellence has been an inspiration to the whole BII team.