Breweries and Distilleries

Brewdog CEO responds to ‘culture of fear’ allegations

Some 60 ex-staff members of the Scottish brewer and pub chain stated that a number of former employees had ‘suffered mental illness as a result of working at Brewdog’

James Watt, co-founder of Brewdog, has responded to major workplace criticisms against the firm, promising to learn from the “culture of fear” allegations.

In an open letter, 60 ex-staff members of the Scottish brewer and pub chain stated that a number of former employees had “suffered mental illness as a result of working at Brewdog”.

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The signatories cited a “cult of personality” that encircled Watt and his fellow co-founder, Martin Dickie, to be the building blocks of the entire firm.

In turn, Watt told the BBC that the allegations of a “culture of fear” and “toxic attitude” would teach him the lessons needed to become a better chief executive.

A part of the letter said: “You spent years claiming you wanted to be the best employer in the world, presumably to help you to recruit top talent, but ask former staff what they think of those claims, and you’ll most likely be laughed at.

“Being treated like a human being was sadly not always a given for those working at Brewdog.”

Although Watt did not confirm to the BBC whether or not the allegations were true, he did concede that “we haven’t always got things right” at Brewdog.

He added: “We have to see this feedback as an opportunity to get better. We have to learn, we have to act. We have to take it on the chin.

“For me, it’s not about disputing individual claims. But 60 people were unhappy and we have to get better. That’s the only way we can get something good out of this situation.”

In a statement, Brewdog said: “At Brewdog our people are our main priority, which is why the open letter we saw on Twitter was so upsetting, but so important. Our focus now is not on contradicting or contesting the details of that letter, but to listen, learn and act.

“We are committed to doing better, not just as a reaction to this, but always; and we are going to reach out to our entire team past and present to learn more. But most of all, right now, we are sorry.”

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