Morale booster

BrewDog hands out shares in staff charm offensive

James Watt
James Watt is diluting his holding

BrewDog boss James Watt has launched a charm offensive to restore morale in the company by handing out shares and introducing a scheme to distribute profits among staff.

The Aberdeenshire firm will give shares worth about £120,000 to 750 employees and launch the first ever profit sharing scheme for all bar workers as it looks to move on from a rift that led to accusations against the chief executive’s style of management.

He will hand over nearly a fifth of his stake in the business, representing 3.7 million shares or a 5% shareholding, to salaried employees.

The near-£100 million share award will be worth about £30,000 a year over four years to each eligible employee, based on the most recent fundraising, which valued BrewDog at about £1.8 billion. Salaried staff and the firm’s army of “equity punk” investors own 25% of the company.

The process will see Mr Watt’s stake reduce from 24.2% to 19.2%, while the profit sharing scheme will be the first of its kind in the hospitality sector, allowing 1,500 hourly-paid bar staff to share half of the earnings from each bar, unveiled as part of a wider growth plan laid out by the group.

BrewDog, which is headquartered in Ellon, said that based on last year’s numbers it would pay out an extra £3,000 to £5,000 on top of each bar worker’s salary.

The moves come almost a year after a group of former workers accused the company of having a “toxic” culture in an open letter alleging the business was built upon a “cult of personality” around its founders, Mr Watt and Martin Dickie.

Mr Watt has denied the allegations, including further accusations made against him in a BBC documentary and has lodged a complaint against the broadcaster.

Former Asda chief executive Allan Leighton was brought in last year as chairman to help beef up governance ahead of an IPO. However, Mr Watt now concedes the group is unlikely to float in the next 12 months given the market uncertainty.

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