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‘I am trying to be a better leader’: Brewdog boss apologises but hits out at BBC documentary

Mr Watt has strongly denied the allegations made against him in the BBC documentary.
Mr Watt has strongly denied the allegations made against him in the BBC documentary.

Brewdog boss James Watt has apologised to anyone who has felt uncomfortable because of his behaviour in the past.

The beer giant was the subject of a BBC Disclosure documentary last night, which was prompted by an open letter written by employees past and present last year who described a “toxic” work environment.

In the programme, The Truth About Brewdog, more than 15 former employees – who had worked in some of the firm’s American chains – alleged Mr Watt made female bartenders feel “uncomfortable” and “powerless”.

They made claims about inappropriate incidents on the roof terrace bar.

Lawyers for Mr Watt have strongly denied all the allegations.

And today, Mr Watt hit out at the “false rumours and misinformation” while saying sorry to anyone he made feel uncomfortable.

‘I truly apologise to anyone who felt that way’

In a post on an online investors’ forum, seen by the BBC, Mr Watt said “false claims” in the programme were upsetting and damaging.

The Brewdog chief executive wrote to investors and said he regretted if anyone felt in “any way uncomfortable” around him as set out in the documentary.

He wrote: “This is absolutely the last thing I want and something I will learn from immediately. I truly apologise to anyone who felt that way. This was never my intention.

“However, I would argue that people feeling uncomfortable around me based on false rumours and misinformation does not represent inappropriate behaviour on my behalf.”

Mr Watt said that where he was responsible for people not being comfortable then it was clear he had to change.

“I am trying to be a better leader, and to be far more mindful of the impact I have on our team when I am on site,” he said.

Before the programme aired, Mr Watt also addressed some of the issues on the Equity for Punks forum.

Writing online, Mr Watt – who set up Brewdog in 2007 with friend Martin Dickie – said: “I feel deeply responsible for all of the amazing 2,400 people that work at Brewdog and I would do anything to help and protect them by fighting for this business.

“We have absolutely made some mistakes on our journey and I’ve always sought to be open about these. We’ve always taken a stand for the things we believe in, and there’s no doubt the establishment, however you choose to define it, is not a fan of Brewdog.”

‘We’re a different company’

Referring to the accounts from former staff, he insisted the company they had left was “very different” to the one now in operation.

He wrote: “Instead of being angry, I am sorry – sorry that their experience all those years ago has driven such hostility. We are working so hard to be the company we know we can be.

“We’ve made huge changes over the last few years – the company they left is very different to the one we are today, and very different to the company we will be, as we continue to invest in our people and business.”

Punks with Purpose has tonight pledged to keep pushing for the changes pledged in response to the open letter they published last June on behalf of past and existing staff, who alleged there was a “culture of fear” within Brewdog.

They wrote: “We now call on Brewdog’s other senior leaders to examine their role in the culture, and ask if they’re ready to change the way they think and act.”

The group has pledged to continue focusing on ensuring that Brewdog delivers on the company-wide changes they committed to last year.

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