BrewDog to keep Draft House chain as distinct entity

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Drinks: Beers
Location: England

BrewDog will keep the Draft House chain ‘the same’ after buying it today for an undisclosed fee, according to former owner Charlie McVeigh.

McVeigh, who founded Draft House in 2009, said he expects the 14 sites to remain ‘distinct’ from Brewdog’s own bars.

‘They’re set on keeping it the same, and distinct from BrewDog,’ he said. ‘That’s one thing that we’ve been talking about consistently through the discussions, that the two things must be distinct.

‘Otherwise, why buy the brand? That’s definitely the plan, from what I understand.’

McVeigh said the ‘very good-natured’ negotiations began just before Christmas, after BrewDog approached Draft House: the latter had no prior plans to sell, he said, having bought the Grand Union chain in the summer.

Impressed with BrewDog Bars MD David McDowall, McVeigh said he expects to see BrewDog itself go from strength to strength. ‘They’re very strong people. They’ve got a very powerful culture that they all believe in. That’s very important in a business; you can’t bet against them going all the way.

‘That’s why my message to my guys is: this is a great opportunity for all of you. These guys [ at BrewDog] are not stopping, they want to own the world. It’s exciting working in a business like that.’

The move by BrewDog to buy Draft House is a sign the Scottish craft brewers are looking for a different offering to complement their own venues without duplicating them. Draft House’s cask ale and big-name lagers could be important for BrewDog at a time when some of its bars – like the recently-closed Homerton site in East London – are struggling.

What BrewDog will do with some of the macro-owned beers currently on Draft House bars, such as Camden Town Helles, given co-owner James Watt’s strong and frequently vocal opposition to the big brewing conglomerates, remains to be seen.

McVeigh, meanwhile, is planning to rest before getting started on his new project. He can’t be involved in craft-beer bars for the next 12 months as part of the deal, but he has plenty of ideas.

‘Right now I just want to have a kip!’ he said. ‘I’d like to help other people with their businesses. I’m potentially interested in getting involved in product rather than retail. I’ve got some ideas, but I’m going to take some time off first.’

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