01 October 2021

BrewDog appoints new chairman ahead of IPO

United Kingdom | Beer and spirits company BrewDog, which was hit by criticism from former employees over its toxic culture earlier this year, has appointed a chairman with a blue-chip reputation. The former Asda boss and City grandee, Allan Leighton, 68, has joined BrewDog as non-executive chairman, in the latest sign that the Scottish craft brewer is moving closer to a public listing on the stock market.

Incidentally, this important news was not put on BrewDog’s twitter account by the firm itself. It must have been sent out as a press release the old-fashioned way, possibly in order to play by City rules.

Take it as a sign that Mr Leighton has already taken the reins at BrewDog, since he has been brought in to provide “experienced counsel on leadership and governance matters” and will act as a mentor to BrewDog’s co-founder and CEO James Watt, media reported on 14 September 2021.

Mr Leighton is also chair of retailer The Co-Operative Group and the casual dining chain PizzaExpress. He was previously CEO of supermarket group Asda and jewellery retailer Pandora, and has also chaired the Royal Mail and Wagamama restaurants.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Leighton said: “BrewDog has built an incredible market position and brand in a short space of time. It continues to grow quickly all over the world, has a fantastic team of people, and an outstanding sustainability story to tell. I look forward to playing my role in ensuring the company has the right governance in place to capitalise on the opportunities ahead.”

In an interview with BBC Scotland, Mr Watt said: “It’s going to be fantastic for me personally to have such an experienced business leader acting as a mentor to myself.”

Mr Watt explained that the interim chairwoman, Blythe Jack, had not been able to continue in that role, as she represents the private equity company TSG Consumer Partners, which is BrewDog’s biggest investor with a 22 percent stake. This would have broken stock exchange rules. She takes the role of deputy chairperson of the board.

The timing of the float, or Initial Public Offering, has not been announced. BrewDog has hired Rothschild to advise on it, having previously postponed plans for a 2020 float because of the pandemic.

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