BrewDog: bosses apologise after ex-staff accuse brewer of ‘culture of fear’

Former BrewDog workers have alleged there is a ‘toxic attitude’ to junior employees at the craft beer firm

In an open letter to BrewDog, signatories said former employees have 'suffered mental illness' as a result of working at the craft beer giant (Shutterstock)

BrewDog bosses have apologised after ex-staff members alleged there is a “culture of fear” at the craft beer company, with “toxic attitudes” to junior workers.

In an open letter, signatories said a “significant number” of former employees have “suffered mental illness” as a result of working at the Scottish brewer.

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At a glance: 5 key points

- The letter, sent by a group called Punks With Purpose, alleged the business was built upon a “cult of personality” around its founders, James Watt and Martin Dickie

- Signatories said “growth at all costs” is the overarching focus of the company

- They alleged that managers treated staff “however they liked, without repercussions – making them feel belittled and/or pressured into working beyond their capacity, and often eventually feeling forced out of the business”

- Co-founder Mr Watt said on Twitter that Brewdog was “sorry”, calling the letter “upsetting”

- He said he will not “contradict or contest” its contents, and instead “listen, learn and act”.

What’s been said

“Being treated like a human being was sadly not always a given for those working at BrewDog.

“Put bluntly, the single biggest shared experience of former staff is a residual feeling of fear.

“Fear to speak out about the atmosphere we were immersed in, and fear of repercussions even after we have left.

“It is with [Mr Watt] that the responsibility for this rotten culture lies.

“Your attitude and actions are at the heart of the way BrewDog is perceived, from both inside and out.

“By valuing growth, speed and action above all else, your company has achieved incredible things, but at the expense of those who delivered your dreams.”

Signatories of the open letter, sent by the Punks With Purpose group

“We are committed to doing better, not just as a reaction to this, but always, and we are going to reach out to our entire team past and present to learn more.

“But most of all, right now, we are sorry.”

James Watt, BrewDog co-founder

Background

Founded in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, in 2007, BrewDog is recognised as having helped bring craft beer to the mass market. It operates numerous bars across the UK.

The company is now valued at around 2 billion US dollars (£1.4 billion) according to Forbes’ most recent estimates.

The open letter was posted on Twitter and signed by more than 60 former staff members, who made a number of claims, including a “culture of fear” where workers were scared to speak about their concerns.

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