BrewDog ‘no choice but to close 6 bars’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Operator caution: BrewDog boss James Watt warned the energy crisis could cause more business casualties than the pandemic
Operator caution: BrewDog boss James Watt warned the energy crisis could cause more business casualties than the pandemic

Related tags Brewdog Multi-site pub operators Property Finance

James Watt, co-founder and CEO of BrewDog, has revealed the company closed six of its bars due to rocketing energy costs and has blasted the Government as "clueless".

He urged the Government to “get a grip now” of the crisis, warning there could be “more business casualties than the pandemic” if support is not forthcoming.

In a social media post, the BrewDog boss outlined how the company’s latest opening​ had been a success, alongside a call for the Government to help the sector.

Its biggest ever venue in The Sidings in Waterloo Station is 27,500sq ft and features co-working spaces and pods, a microbrewery, a GRIND café, duckpin bowling alleys, podcast studio, meeting rooms, not-for-profit floristry, a retro ice cream van and a 'hidden' cocktail bar.

Watt shared on LinkedIn: “Waterloo was amazing but reality is biting – Liz/Rishi, please stop the charade.

“[Two] weeks ago we celebrated the opening of our biggest ever bar – BrewDog Waterloo. From a personal perspective, it was an incredible week and getting to share the opening night with nearly 1,000 Equity Punks was a real privilege.

“It’s also the first brand new bar we’ve opened since the first Blueprint bonus was paid, meaning all the bar’s 200 brilliant, hardworking staff will receive 50% of the profits the location generates.”

Vastly exceeded expectations

The operator of more than 100 bars worldwide, claimed the Waterloo venue had gone over and above initial trading predictions and the company was planning more openings at present.

“We knew we would get some attention and the usual cynics have written it off before we’d even opened (and the number of Twitterati hoping it would close and our fabulous 200 people would all lose their jobs was depressingly high), but sorry to disappoint them – Waterloo has vastly exceeded even our ambitious expectations with over 20,000 visitors in the first two weeks alone,” Watt added.

“The Waterloo bar in many, epitomises where we want to evolve our bar estate. Of course, not all our bars can have the scale of Waterloo but we are looking to do something different with our bars – to provide incredible experiences for our wonderful, fun, loyal customers who want to drink a beautifully brewed beer, in a great environment, served by knowledgeable, passionate people with the option of the food we all love.

“We have lots of new openings planned with more than 20 locations in construction and planning.”

However, he went on to cite the results of The Morning Advertiser​’s survey, which revealed 70% of operators didn’t think they would survive the winter​ without Government intervention.

"But it's important the success of Waterloo doesn't blind us all to the reality we, as a sector, are facing, nor to the sheer 'rabbit in the headlights' paralysis of this zombie Government, still intent on this bizarre leadership farce, instead of getting to grips with the kind of challenges that will result in more business casualties than the pandemic did."

Clueless Government

Watt said: “Last night we confirmed we were to close six bars around the UK and it is heart-breaking to lose these locations.

“I warned a few weeks ago, costs are rising to such a degree, with no prospect of any help from a clueless Government, these very difficult decisions have to be made.

“It was going to be simply impossible to get these bars even close to financial viability in the foreseeable future. We had no choice but to close them.

“I am so, so happy that due to the strength in other parts of our bar estate, every single person has been offered a role in a separate bar nearby so there will be no job losses. But I pray this is not a sign of things to come.”

Furthermore, he warned the hospitality industry could dramatically shrink without the Government stepping in.

“Reality in the hospitality space is starting to bite and bite hard. The Government needs to get a grip, now,” Watt added.

“If nothing happens, the UK looks set to lose half its pubs and bars and all the millions of jobs these locations provide, as well as the vital role they provide in local communities.”

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