BrewDog Co-Founder James Watt Steps Down as CEO Amidst Controversies

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James Watt, the co-founder and long-serving chief executive of BrewDog, is set to step down after 17 years at the helm of the Scottish brewing and bar chain.

Watt, who played a pivotal role in steering BrewDog from a rebellious challenger to a mainstream beer brand, informed the board of his decision to step back last year.

His successor, James Arrow, the company’s chief operating officer, is tasked with steering the business towards profitability amidst recent losses. Despite relinquishing his CEO role, Watt will retain a significant stake in the company (21%) and take on the title of “captain and co-founder,” along with continuing as a non-executive director and strategic advisor.

Watt expressed his gratitude for the journey with BrewDog, acknowledging the highs and lows encountered during his tenure. His decision to step down is motivated by a desire to allocate more time to personal pursuits such as travel, spending time with loved ones, and exploring new business ventures.

BrewDog, founded by Watt and Martin Dickie in 2006, gained notoriety for its audacious publicity stunts and embraced the ethos of the craft beer revolution. Over the years, it has evolved into one of Britain’s leading brewers, boasting a robust portfolio of beers and a network of over 120 bars worldwide.

However, the company’s growth has not been without challenges. Controversies surrounding its treatment of staff, including allegations of a “culture of fear” and toxic attitudes, have tarnished its image. Additionally, BrewDog faced criticism for its decision to abandon the real living wage, leading to its designation as the TUC’s worst employer of the month.

Despite these setbacks, BrewDog remains a formidable player in the brewing industry, with ambitious plans for the future. Watt’s departure marks a significant transition for the company, as it navigates a path towards sustainability and profitability under new leadership.

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