BrewDog has pressed go on its openings pipeline with 40 bar locations already in place, and will look to open between 10-12 of those sites before the end of the year, president and COO David McDowall has told MCA.

The Scottish craft beer brewer and bar operator opened three new UK locations on 12 April, in Plymouth, Exeter and Ealing, and is half-way through the build of its first UK hotel, which will open in in Manchester in July/August this year under its DogHouse concept; launched in the US a few years ago.

“In March last year we had about 28 sites in the pipeline, and obviously all of that went on hold, but we did start warming up a bit at the tail end of last year,” explained McDowall. Openings towards the end 2020 included a 12,000 sq ft Dogtap venue at its brewery in Ellon, and BrewDog Shanghai.

“Overall across the world we actually have a pipeline in place for the next 40 BrewDog locations – it feels crazy that a year on from the start of the pandemic we are having that kind of conversation but we are forging ahead with cautious optimism,” he said.

Upcoming locations include a flagship site at Wapping Power Station in East London, and a rooftop location in Las Vegas. “The engine of growth and the pipeline of activity is really warming back up again now,” he added.

BrewDog reopened just over 30 of its locations on 12 April, with all of its locations in Scotland reopening today (26 April). McDowall said that while it had only been a couple of weeks of trading, it had been a really positive start and its site had traded really well. “All of our US locations are back open now and we are getting back to relatively normal levels of sales,” he added.

However, the logistics of dealings with different rules and regulations, not only within the UK but in its international locations, has been “really tough”, he said. “Everything about it has been really difficult, and it’s made even more difficult by the fact that some of the regulations don’t seem to be routed in any kind of operational reality.”

McDowall explained that being an international operator had given in a different perspective on the approach of the British government to dealing with Covid and the closure of hospitality compared to other nations. “Unfortunately it’s firm view that although there’s been some great intervention in the UK – obviously the job retention scheme was very important to keep people in work – the way hospitality as a sector has been treated and support given is one of the poorest examples that we have seen in Europe,” he said.