BrewDog pledges to give staff and charities 20% of profits

Aberdeenshire craft beer producer BrewDog has pledged to give away a fifth of its annual profits to staff and charities.

BrewDog staff and investors will choose which charities will benefit from its Unicorn Fund. Picture: Contributed
BrewDog staff and investors will choose which charities will benefit from its Unicorn Fund. Picture: Contributed

The Ellon-based firm said its “Unicorn Fund” could see it donate more than £45 million over the next five years if it hits its profit targets.

The brewer’s 1,000-strong workforce stand to share 10 per cent of its annual earnings, with the remaining 10 per cent going to charities selected by its staff and 57,000 “Equity Punk” investors.

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BrewDog said it would reinvest the balance of its profit haul into the business for “at least” the next seven years.

Latest accounts show that the brewer, founded in 2007, grew its pre-tax profits by 8.2 per cent to £3.8m in 2016, following a 60.6 per cent surge in revenues to £71.9m.

Co-founder James Watt said: “At BrewDog, we care about two things above all else; our beer and our people. We want to make the best beers on the planet, we want to be the best company to work for, and we want to build a radically new type of business that we can all be proud of.

“Giving away 20 per cent of our profits – forever – is not about altruism. It is about impact. It’s not about profits. It is about purpose. This is the biggest community-fuelled, crowdfunded charity contribution in history.”

Watt, who set up the firm alongside co-founder Martin Dickie also took aim at what he described as “outdated” corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies adopted by many companies, arguing that such altruism exists “merely for the purpose of an oversized cheque and an awkward photo shoot”.

He added: “This is a call to arms for businesses to democratise the impact their charitable contributions can have on their community, their people, and the world.

“In our tenth year at BrewDog, we hope to inspire a new kind of business with the Unicorn Fund; one that doesn’t measure profit in purely monetary terms. Our mission for the next decade at BrewDog is not simply to redefine the beer industry, but to redefine industry itself.”

In April, US private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners bought a stake of about 22 per cent in BrewDog, with the deal valuing the brewer at about £1 billion.

At the time, Watt said that he and Dickie “remain controlling shareholders and fully committed to BrewDog, and this investment will allow us to accelerate our mission” amid the potential for a stock market listing within the next five years.

Of the 10 per cent of Unicorn Fund proceeds donated to good causes, 5 per cent will go to charities chosen by BrewDog’s investors, with the remaining 5 per cent issued to those selected by staff.