Brewer and pub chain Brewdog is expanding in China after forging a joint venture with US giant Budweiser.
China currently accounts for less than 1% of Brewdog’s overall sales and the deal will see the Aberdeenshire-based firm’s ramp up its operations in the world’s second biggest economy.
Its beers will be produced at Budweiser China’s Putian craft brewery, in the south-eastern province of Fujian, by the end of next month.
It currently has an international network of more than 110 bars but just one in China. Brewdog Shanghai, which opened in 2020, is in the Jing’An district of the city. It emered in 2021 that it was in talks with an unnamed partner.
In a statement, Brewdog founder James Watt described the Budweiser partnership as “transformational” and said it would bring the craft brewery to “every corner of the world’s biggest beer market”.
It is the company’s second tie-up in Asia following a deal with Asahi in Japan in 2021, which Brewdog said helped it double its sales in the country.
BrewDog employs more than 2,300 people and has breweries in the US state of Ohio, Berlin in Germany and Brisbane in Australia.
However, its expansion in China could revive claims of hypocrisy after its campaign against FIFA for staging the men’s World Cup in Qatar over its record on human rights. Ahead of last year’s tournament, Mark Sabah, of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, said: “It’s completely hypocritical.
“You cannot call out an authoritarian regime and support another just because they buy and make your beer.
“If they are going to be calling out human rights abuses in Qatar, they should be doing the same in China.”
The company reportedly planned to start selling shares on the London stock market in 2020 but postponed the move as the pandemic saw pubs and bars closed during lockdowns.
Mr Watt has said Brewdog has no plans to imminently revive a share sale but has hinted that one could take place by the end of this year.
Brewdog’s posted an annual operating loss of £5.5m ($6.6m) for 2021.