James Watt steps down as BrewDog CEO

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Appointment change: James Watt is to step down as CEO but will remain on the BrewDog PLC board
Appointment change: James Watt is to step down as CEO but will remain on the BrewDog PLC board

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BrewDog co-founder James Watt is stepping down as chief executive after 17 years at the helm of the business.

Current COO​ James Arrow will succeed Watt as CEO, as part of a succession plan, which was put in place last year.

Watt will stay on the BrewDog plc board in the role of ‘captain and co-founder’ and remains a major shareholder.

BrewDog chair Allan Leighton said: “James Watt spoke to me last year about continuing to play a role with the business while freeing up time to concentrate on his other projects and interests.

“We subsequently put in place a succession plan by recruiting James Arrow as COO and strengthening the wider senior leadership team.”

Proven leader

Before joining BrewDog, James Arrow was managing director at Boots Opticians and prior to that, he spent a decade at Dixons Carphone in a plethora of senior roles including e-commerce, trading, operations, sales and transformation.

Leighton said Arrow was a “proven leader”. He added: “His eight months as COO have given him a great insight into the business.”

He added the board was delighted to have him as CEO, to lead the company into its next phase of growth​.

On his new role, Arrow said: “James and Martin have created a fantastic business. I am looking forward to building on their achievement and leading this business through the next phase of its development.”

Leighton also wished Watt every success in his new ventures and in his NED role on the board.

Humble beginnings

He said: “James Watt, alongside Martin Dickie, created this great business from a garage in Fraserburgh.

“Few have accomplished what he has. From very humble beginnings under this leadership, BrewDog has grown to become the world’s leading craft brewer, employing 2,530 people across its head office, four breweries and more than 120 bars.

“I am especially pleased he will continue to offer his insight, creative genius and energy to the board.”

Watt also posted the news on LinkedIn and said there had been highs and lows during his time at the helm of BrewDog and when he looked back on the past 17 years, his overwhelming feeling was gratitude.

He added: “I want to thank all the incredible people who have helped Martin and I create this unique business. I have loved co-founding this amazing business and leading it for the past 17 years​.

“I am excited to take a bit of time off, to travel, to spend more time with my family and friends and I am also looking forward to being able to dedicate some more time to my other business interests.”

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