Brexit a ‘pain in the arse’ for BrewDog’s expansion

BrewDog Distilling’s managing director, David Gates, has addressed issues relating to “pain in the arse” Brexit as the group prepares to launch its range in France and other international markets.

BrewDog Distilling Co, which produces a range of gins and vodkas at its distillery in Scotland, currently offers its spirits in bars across Europe, and has plans to begin further international expansion of its portfolio.

Gates said: “We decided to focus on the UK this year, but our plan is to launch some of our spirits in France from next month. Our spirits are available in all of our bars in Europe now and next year we will begin to drive international expansion, including out into the US.”

As well as its Scottish headquarters, BrewDog also operates sites in Berlin, Ohio and Brisbane. As the spirits and beer producer prepares to expand its footprint in Europe and other markets, Gates described Brexit as “a pain in the arse that we will work around”.

“Next year we will begin to drive international expansion,” said Gates, who joined BrewDog from Diageo in 2018.

“The good thing is that we have already exported, so we have stock out in Europe and from a beer perspective we have a brewery in Europe as well.

“I suppose the impact of Brexit depends on what deal is done, and I think most sane people hope and expect that there will be some form of deal that doesn’t deliver the trade disruption that could be hugely detrimental to our business as well as the UK economy.

“James [Watt, BrewDog co-founder] has tweeted a few things about getting his trawler boat out and taking the beer across to Europe himself if it comes to it.”

Gates said that, at present, the Scottish producer is focused on the UK, but that it hopes for “clarity” from the UK government as it eyes international expansion in the coming year.

He added: “By the time we are ready to go international we will have a bit more clarity and I guess most people hope that if there is an exit it is an orderly exit that has some form of clarity. I just can’t believe that’s not going to happen at some stage.”

Last week, during an industry summit in London, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association criticised the UK government for its “lack of political leadership” and advised the industry to continue preparing for a no-deal Brexit.

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