Brewdog’s revenue from brewing and retail has provided a lifeline during lockdown – but the company remains committed to reopening its bars in the future, COO David McDowall has told MCA.

McDowall said the group was fortunate to have a retail and e-commerce business, which has enabled it to hold on to 30% of revenue, compared to peers whose income had dried up completely.

He said the bar business was crucial to Brewdog’s mission and company values, and that alongside initiatives such as producing hand sanitizer, the company was taking the time to review how it could become a better bar operator in the future.

MacDowall said the prospect of 50% capacity or less would make operating uneconomical, with certain issues such as a furlough extension and a time out on rent requiring resolution first.

Brewdog is supporting Jonathan Downey’s National Time Out campaign, and after writing to MPs, has had some engagement on the issue and a board understanding that “something has to give”.

He told MCA: “There’s no ifs or buts, we are effectively sleepwalking into a disaster if we think things are going to return to normal anytime within the next 18 months, or that the dramatic impact on the number of businesses and jobs isn’t going to be offset unless we do something quite radical.

He described rent is the “absolutely key issue”, but one that was currently in gridlock. In Brewdog’s estate, he said a third of landlords had not been willing to engage in any dialogue whatsoever, while only 10% had done anything that would have any kind of meaningful impact.

“There has to be a point, where the key protagonists, the operators, the landlords and the government, get around the table and bash out a resolution that is sensible and works for all parties”, he said.

Dispute its agile and innovative turns, like many others in the industry, McDowall said Brewdog faced an uncertain future.

“With aggressive social distancing measures in place its going to be very difficult for most operators to get to a point where they’re anywhere near breaking even,” he said.

“For us, if we opened with 30% capacity, we are undoubtedly better off shut. We hope we can open with slightly more than that and grow from there as quickly as possible.

“Depending on how strict social distancing measures are, it’s very difficult to see a pathway with that level of reduced capacity, that any of our business can make any money.”

McDowall maintained bars were the best place to experience Brewdog’s product.

“Our mission has always been to make people as passionate about craft beer as we are”, he said.

“We think the on premise and the experience that comes with that is an intrinsic part of that mission.”

He added: “We are taking this opportunity to review how we operate our bars and look at what our consumer offering is, and what that looks like in the various phases of reopening, and work out how we can be an even better operator of pubs and bars on the other side of this.”