Change at top

Watt steps down as BrewDog CEO, Arrow takes over

James Watt
James Watt: new role

BrewDog co-founder and chief executive James Watt is stepping down and handing control to chief operating officer James Arrow.

Mr Watt, who created the Aberdeenshire-based company with Martin Dickie 17 years ago, will take on a new role as “Captain and Co-founder”. He will remain on the board as a part-time strategic adviser to the business and the leadership team.

He and Mr Dickie have built one of Scotland’s biggest companies, valued at its peak at more than £1 billion and now operating around the world.

But his controversial career – often deliberately provoked – has seen him weather a number of difficulties, including disputes with staff, rival companies, the BBC and the advertising authorities,.

Mr Arrow joined the company last September after four years as managing director of Boots Opticians. Prior to that he spent 11 years at Dixons Carphone. He will turn his attention to returning BrewDog to profit.

The change at the top came as a surprise and may signal the start of plans for a long-considered flotation.

In a social media post, Mr Watt said: “After 17 fantastic years as CEO, I have decided to transition into a new role in the business, one of ‘Captain & Co-Founder’ – and James Arrow will pick up the reins as CEO as our business pushes forward into our next phase of growth.

“In my new role I will remain as a board member, a director and I will also be part time strategic advisor to the business and our to leadership team. Furthermore, I will retain my BrewDog shareholding and my Hop Stock initiative whereby I give 20% of my BrewDog shares to the team will remain in place.

“During my time at the helm of BrewDog, there have been highs and lows, up and downs, crazy successes and incredibly hard challenges. When I look back on the last 17 years (119 Dog Years) my overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude.
“Gratitude to have been able to build the world’s leading craft beer brand, from scratch. Gratitude to have been able to work with such amazing people all over our business including our fantastic community.

“I am eternally thankful for all the brilliant beers, all the standout batches of Jack Hammer and all the wild adventures we have been on as a team.

“I am also grateful for the tough times too, for the learnings they provided, the resolve they instilled and the perspective they offered.

“In terms of the next chapter for myself, I wanted to share with you my plans going forward

·     Continuing to help BrewDog build an amazing business.
·     Some time off for travelling & adventures.
·     Spending more time with family & loved ones.
·     Continuing to help nurture fantastic start-ups.
·     Becoming a football manager.
·     And in due course, starting a few new ventures of my own.
(one of these is a lie)

“As for BrewDog going forward, I am really excited to see the next phase of our growth. We have great momentum in our most important sales channels and our team, at all levels of the business, is in incredibly good shape.”

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