The brewery bosses taking salary cuts to protect their business

James Watt and Martin Dickie, the founders of Scottish beer giant Brewdog, will forgo their salaries this year as part of a plan to protect the business against the impact of coronavirus.

Brewdog founders James Watt and Martin Dickie will not take a salary this year.

“In order to protect as many jobs at BrewDog as we can many of our senior team have volunteered to take pay cuts,” Watt said in a Tweet on 31 March, adding that chief operating officer Dave McDowall also volunteered to take a 50% cut.

“Myself and my co-founder Martin are forgoing all salary for 2020. But we have not started sleeping the brewery (yet).”

In a letter to shareholders last month, Watt said Brewdog has seen a 70% drop in revenue “overnight” after lockdown measures were imposed in the UK.

“The reality is our business, and the vast majority of businesses, now face a fight to be able to survive and make it through this crisis,” he said.

Other brewing bosses have also said they will take home a smaller salary this year, including Greene King CEO Nick Mackenzie. Mackenzie announced last week that he will take a 50% drop in pay for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, while executive board members have also reduced their pay by 30%.

The board and senior team at Cornwall’s St Austell Brewery, which makes Tribute, Proper Job, have “all committed voluntarily to salary reductions of up to 20%, until it is safe for normal trading to resume,” a spokesperson told the drinks business. The brewer, which has seen a 90% fall in sales since UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked pubs and bars to close their doors last month, has also furloughed more than three quarters of its staff across its pub estate, St Austell Brewery and Bath Ales’ Hare Brewery – which it acquired in 2016.

Last month, AB InBev’s chief executive, Carlos Brito, announced he would not receive a bonus for the second half of 2019 as the world’s largest brewer by volume saw its worst quarter of sales in a decade.

Arne Sorenson, the chief executive of hotel group Marriott, has also announced he “will not be taking any salary for the balance of 2020 and my executive team will be taking a 50% cut in pay.”

Smaller breweries are also pooling their resources to weather the storm. Paul Jones, the owner of Cloudwater in Manchester, told the drinks business he is using the brewer’s online store to list beers from local producers who don’t have their own e-commerce platforms, charging them a 10% commission “which essentially just about covers postage and packaging.”

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