‘Clickbait headlines’ blasted by BrewDog’s Watt

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Wages issue: the move has saved hundreds of jobs argues BrewDog's James Watt
Wages issue: the move has saved hundreds of jobs argues BrewDog's James Watt

Related tags Multi-site pub operators Finance Pubco + head office

BrewDog CEO and co-founder James Watt has blasted “completely false clickbait headlines” over the company’s decision to not retain the real living wage (RLW) status for bar staff.

The boss of the Ellon-based brewer and international bar operator took to LinkedIn to explain the move to not keep up with the RLW for bar staff will allow it to prevent hundreds of jobs being lost.

Watt said: “Why let the truth get in the way of a vitriolic social media pile on and a flurry of completely false clickbait headlines?

“Last week, we took a decision that will help save hundreds of jobs and the ‘controversy’ centred around the fact that since March 2022 we will have raised our national bar team wages by 20.3% and not the 26% that would have been required to retain full RLW status.

“If you saw the media storm last week and subsequent social media outrage, you would almost certainly believe we pay our fantastic people in the most terrible of ways.

“That, of course, is very far from the reality.”

No one’s wages slashed

Watt went on to state BrewDog is used to “media negativity” and added “most of the reporting was simply false”.

He said of the Evening Standard​ story titled ‘BrewDog CEO criticised for slashing London wages’ it was untrue and no one’s wages have been slashed and nobody had their pay reduced.

When the publication changed the headline, Watt said it was not before it had been viewed thousands of times during the 18 hours it had been live.

He continued: “The BBC reported on multiple occasions last week that we had made £321m in profits last year when we actually reported a small loss. We will ask the BBC for an apology but we are almost certain that they will refuse to apologise as per usual when they publish lies about BrewDog.”

Wat said although many claim not to trust the media he believes most people take what they read at face value, “so, when the Standard​ says we are slashing wages, people believe it. When the BBC says we have £321m in our coffers, people believe it”.

The click jackpot

“Sensational headlines get clicks. And sensationalised headlines with BrewDog win the click jackpot,” Watt argued.

“Furthermore, only two days after they tore us to pieces for trying to protect jobs and keep our bars open, The Independent​ ran a huge article headlined ‘Thousands of restaurants and pubs closing across UK blame soaring bills among pressures they face’.

“The irony of The Independent​ doing a hit piece on BrewDog for trying to protect jobs while still offering best-in-class packages and then only two days later doing an in-depth spread about thousands of pubs closing and the pressures facing our sector was certainly not lost on us.

“Contrary to the hurricane of noise last week, we continue to offer best-in-class packages and we continue with our profit share programme, which saw us give over 80% of the profits that BrewDog bars generated in 2023 directly to the fantastic people who work in venues.

“We push on from here, more resolute than ever to build the best business we can for all our fantastic team members and our brilliant community. Onward.”

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