BrewDog Does Charity For Punks

Austin Ray
static1.squarespace.jpg

THE GIST
At this point, BrewDog is about as famous for its relentless crowdfunding campaigns as it is for the beer it produces. With its latest financial gambit, however, the Scottish craft beer "punks" aren't asking for more money to fund an extravagant new expansion. Rather, the company promised on Tuesday to give away a fifth of all yearly profits from now into perpetuity.

Through its new so-called “Unicorn Fund,” the company says going forward it will “evenly” distribute 10% of its annual profits with its entire workforce. Additionally, it says it will donate another 10% to charities selected by employees and the “Equity Punks” who have invested in the company over the years.

“The BrewDog Unicorn Fund is destined to become central to our business, as we look to democratise positive impact, and use craft beer to make the world a better place,” the company says. “For everyone.”

WHY IT MATTERS
In a blog post, BrewDog says if it hits its targets, it will give away more than £45 million over the next five years. Extrapolated from the 20% already pledged away, that would mean the company figures profits over the next five years to reach £220 million (or roughly $285 million USD). That’s a lot of cash!

And that number only seems larger considering BrewDog’s profits of late: In 2016, the company reportedly earned £7 million in pre-tax profit, a considerable jump from the £3.5 million it made the year prior. But that figure, taken alone, leaves the company far, far away from its half-decade goals, leaving open the question of how it will then hit the mark.

Reached for comment on how it will make up ground, the company didn't exactly answer GBH's questions, instead redirecting us to its initial statement detailing the Unicorn Fund. It did add, however, that its coinciding plans to reinvest all remaining profits back into the business over the next seven years “in order to fuel further growth” will help the process along.

“BrewDog is the only business to be named on The Sunday Times' list of the UK’s fastest growing companies in five consecutive years, so there is no reason why that pace should slow down anytime soon,” the company tells GBH. “Reinvesting the balance of our profits in this way will enable us to further propel that unprecedented growth.”

To that end, the company opened its first U.S. brewery in Ohio earlier this summer and plans to open a hybrid hotel and sour beer facility. Last month, it detailed plans to build a brewery in Australia. And earlier this year, it said it plans to build a facility in Asia, one of its biggest export markets. The company likely expects a good portion of its future earnings to come from these cross-continental outposts. Or, as the company has said before, “We see significant growth potential from our U.S. brewery over the next five years.”

As for the charitable endeavor itself, the company, true to form, isn’t being coy in outlining its lofty ambition. In a statement, the company is calling this latest initiative the “biggest community-fuelled, crowdfunded charity contribution in history.” It’s a bit early for such declaration especially considering the company’s most recent crowdfunding effort closed $43 million short of its stated goal. But hey, in these divisive times, people can all come together to root for unprecedented charitable giving. Right?

—Dave Eisenberg & Luke Robertson