BrewDog CEO James Watt admits to management mistakes following workplace culture reports

BrewDog founder James Watt has responded to some of the allegations that have been plaguing the company since the drop of the BBC’s Good Ship Brewdog podcast last month.

Speaking on Steven Bartlett’s The Diary Of A CEO podcast, the BrewDog chief opened about his personal struggles, including anger management, marketing mistakes, and workplace culture disputes.

“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,” Watt said.

It comes after a string of allegations ranging from personal impropriety to financial misconduct to marketing scams.

READ MORE: Brewdog denies Heineken takeover rumours

In BBC’s Disclosure documentary earlier this year, several members of the Brewdog’s US staff said they saw CEO giving private, late-night tours of the US brewery to customers.

Former manager at Brewdog Franklinton in Ohio, Dylan Gray, 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.”

However, Watt’s lawyer retaliated by saying: “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 $2 billion, Watt admits that he has had to start from scratch to rebuild Brewdog’s reputation and improve his own management style.

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