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Brewdog founders reveal funding lie

The pair behind controversial craft beer company Brewdog have admitted that they lied to a bank in order to secure funding for their rapid expansion.

James Watt (left) and Martin Dickie (right) have made several provocative beers that have worked wonders for the company’s successful image (Photo: Brewdog)

James Watt and Martin Dickie, who set up the Scottish brewery back in 2007, told BBC News that they had to lie to a bank in order to get a loan needed to install new beer production equipment in 2008.

Describing the decision to trick the lender, which the drinks business learns to be HSBC, Watt said “you have got to do what you have to do”.

The expansion funding was needed after a year of “selling a couple of cases on a good day and losing money” according to Watt, meaning they were failing to meet repayments for an initial £20,000 loan they secured to set up the company.

After coming first, second, third and fourth place in a beer competition run by supermarket Tesco in 2008, the retailer said it wanted to stock Brewdog products in 500 of its stores, forcing Watt and Dickie – who were still “filling bottles by hand” – to ramp up production quickly.

Going to their bank, Bank of Scotland, to ask for another £150,000, they were turned down because of their past missed payments, so the partners went to HSBC and blagged their way to a loan.

Mr Watt said: “We said that our bank had offered us an amazing deal, but that if you can match it we’ll switch, and they went for it… You have got to do what you have to do.”

The loan allowed Brewdog to meet the order from Tesco, and the brewer has since gone from underdog to top-dog. According to BBC News, the brewer is due to turnover £32 million this fiscal year.

Brewdog employs 357 people, and as well as continuing to supply the likes of Tesco and other retailers UK-wide, it owns 25 bars across the UK and further afield.

A spokesperson for HSBC commented, “Any application for lending goes through a robust and rigorous process before approval.

“Though we do not comment on the applications of individual customers, Brewdog is an ambitious business and we are delighted that they have experienced several years of growth and job creation with HSBC support.”

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