BrewDog to expand bar estate and open beer hotel

Martin Dickie, right, and BrewDog keep their eye on the ball. Picture: Contributed
Martin Dickie, right, and BrewDog keep their eye on the ball. Picture: Contributed
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SCOTLAND’S largest independent brewer has unveiled major expansion plans for its headquarters in Aberdeenshire, to be financed by the company’s largest crowdfunding push to date.

BrewDog co-founder Martin Dickie said the Ellon firm also aims to double its current 28-strong chain of pubs within three years if its latest £25 million Equity for Punks fundraising is successful. Described as a “record-breaking” scheme, the new round of funding will be worth more than five times that last raised by BrewDog in 2013.

Restrictions make it impossible to make the most flavoursome beer

Martin Dickie

The company has released 526,316 shares to the public at a minimum investment of £95 for two shares. If fully subscribed by the closing date in April of next year, so-called “Equity Punks” will own 23 per cent of the business, up from 15 per cent currently.

“Because it is a much bigger share offering than we have done before, we have given ourselves a much bigger window,” said Dickie, who set up BrewDog in 2007 with co-founder James Watt.

Dickie added: “But we have reached our targets ahead of time before, so we would hope to do that again.”

The brewer set out to raise £4m in June 2013, and secured a quarter of that within 24 hours of launch. It then raised its target by £250,000, and reached the increased goal of £4.25m a month ahead of deadline.

The capital will be ploughed into a new brewery with three times the capacity of the company’s current plant in Ellon. The £3m facility will run alongside the existing 100 hectolitre brewhouse, which is expected to reach capacity in the first half of next year.

Advanced plans are in place for a nearby distillery, which should be producing gin, vodka and whisky by the end of this year.

“It is a logical extension to the brewing side of the business,” said Dickie, who holds a first-class honours degree in brewing and distilling from Heriot-Watt University.

“It will have some kind of BrewDog spin on it of course – we are not going to make something just to make it.”

Though a location “is not 100 per cent confirmed”, the company is also hoping to open a £1.5m sour beer facility in Ellon. Additionally, £3m will go towards setting up a small brewing operation in the US to capitalise on the Brew Dogs television series that began airing there in 2013.

Back at home, the company aims to open a “craft beer hotel” to accommodate growing numbers of visitors to the Ellon brewery. Provisionally called The Kennel, it is expected to cost £1.5m.

Known for its impudent attitude towards traditional finance, BrewDog is among the most vocal champions of crowdfunding as an alternative to bank loans and the like. While Equity Punks believe in the product, Dickie said most other investors focus on key targets such as efficiency and price per bottle.

“It is those types of restrictions that make it impossible to make the most flavoursome beer that you can,” he said.

BrewDog currently has 20 UK pubs, having opened its first venue in Aberdeen in 2010, as well as eight bars operating internationally in cities such as Barcelona, Helsinki and Sao Paulo.

About £9m of the new funding will go towards opening new bars in the UK and abroad. Plans for a second Glasgow pub – in the Merchant City – are already in the works, with other sites targeted in locations such as Berlin, Leeds, Brighton and Norwich.

Turnover at the company hit £29.6m in 2014, an increase of 64 per cent on the previous year, with operating profits of £3.9m. Sales in 2015 are expected to reach the £50m mark, with a corresponding rise in profit.