Unite hopeful about Brewdog’s future following resignation of James Watt, CEO

The boss of Scottish beer giant is to step down from his role as Chief Executive of the company.

10 May 2024| News

James Watt has said he is moving to a newly-created position of “captain and co-founder” and retain his shares in the company. His role as CEO will be taken over by chief operating officer James Arrow.

Mr Watt co-founded the Scottish brewery and pub group in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, in 2007 alongside Martin Dickie.

In a statement Mr Watt said: “During my time at the helm of BrewDog, there have been highs and lows, up and downs, crazy successes and incredibly hard challenges. When I look back on the last 17 years my overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude.”

Brewdog has breweries and pubs worldwide but has retained its headquarters in Ellon, Aberdeenshire.

Mr Watt’s time as CEO has been marked by controversy in recent years. The company has faced criticism for its marketing campaigns and its workplace culture. The firm was accused by former workers in an open letter in 2021 of having a “culture of fear” within the business with “toxic attitudes” to junior staff.

In January, Brewdog also faced a backlash after revealing it would no longer hire new staff on the real living wage, instead paying the lower level, minimum wage.

Unite said its members across Brewdog were celebrating the departure of James Watt.

The union recently led a public backlash against Watt as he chose to expand the company across India and America, while abandoning its real living wage promises on home soil.

Bryan Simpson, lead organiser for the hospitality sector at Unite, said:

“Mr Watt oversaw a toxic culture of bullying and mistreatment across Brewdog that left our members in fear of losing their jobs.

By any comparison, Mr Watt is one of the most unscrupulous bosses we have ever dealt with. However, the company now has an opportunity to repair the damage by engaging with Unite, which represents many Brewdog workers.

We strongly advise the company to work with us to dramatically improve the pay and conditions for the workers who make Brewdog’s profits possible.”