Brewdog chief James Watt admits to management mistakes following workplace culture row
CEO and founder of Brewdog James Watt has opened up about issues of anger management and mistakes he’s made around Brewdog’s workplace culture.
Speaking on the podcast The Diary Of A CEO, Watt has said: “It’s completely fair to say at times in the journey I have been too intense, I have been too demanding, that I have set standards for the team that I would set for myself, and for a lot of the team members that is unattainable… I did push people too far”.
It comes after a string of allegations rocked the company, ranging from personal impropriety to financial misconduct to marketing scams,.
In BBC’s Disclosure documentary earlier this year, several members of the Brewdog’s US staff said they saw CEO and co-founder James Watt giving private, late-night tours of the US brewery to customers.
Dylan Gray, a former manager at Brewdog Franklinton in Ohio, said he would schedule more men on nights when Watt would be there, and sit with female staff behind the bar “so they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable”.
Watt’s lawyer has refuted all claims, saying: “At no time has Mr Watt given unwelcome attention to any female bartender. That account is not true – this was fully investigated by Centric HC who concluded that there was no substance to these claims.”
Former duty manager of Brewdog’s flagship bar Canal Winchester, Jackie English, said: “There were three separate nights… [he’d]… come into the building with a girl, a young female, you know, cute little blondes and he would take them into the brewery… to give them a tour or whatever.”
His lawyer added: “Mr Watt regularly takes both women and men, friends and customers on evening tours of the brewery.
“It is not true to say that those who accompany him are intoxicated. The claim that he did, was made by an employee in June 2021.
“It was fully investigated – the claims were not substantiated – no further action was warranted by Brewdog USA HR.”
Despite the Scottish craft beer firm being valued at $2bn, Watt admits that he has had to start from scratch to rebuild Brewdog’s reputation, and improve his own management style.