BrewDog co-founder James Watt will step down as CEO of the beer company after 17 years.

Mr Watt helped start the craft beer company alongside Martin Dickie in 2007, and it has since grown to become one of the biggest brands on the market with bars across the country.

A film about the rise of BrewDog is in the works, but the company has been hit by controversy in recent years following an open letter from staff accusing the firm of creating a "culture of fear" within the business.

Mr Watt has apologised for that and stated that the company has made changes, but it was criticised in January this year after announcing that it would no longer hire staff on the "real" living wage, instead offering them minimum wage.

The co-founder will retain his 21% shareholding in BrewDog, with COO James Arrow to take over his role.

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In a Linkedin post, Mr Watt said: “After 17 fantastic years as chief executive, I have decided to transition into a new role in the business, one of ‘captain and co-Founder’ – and James Arrow will pick up the reins as chief executive as our business pushes forward into our next phase of growth.

“In my new role I will remain as a board member, a director and I will also be part time strategic adviser to the business and our to leadership team.

"During my time at the helm of BrewDog, there have been highs and lows, up and downs, crazy successes and incredibly hard challenges.

“When I look back on the last 17 years (119 Dog Years) my overwhelming feeling is one of gratitude.”

The Herald: Brewdog

He said he was “grateful for the tough times too, for the learnings they provided, the resolve they instilled and the perspective they offered”.

He said he plans to “take a bit of time off, to travel, to spend more time with my family and friends.

“I am also looking forward to being able to dedicate some more time to my other business interests.”

BrewDog chairman Allan Leighton said: “James Watt, alongside Martin Dickie, created this great business from a garage in Fraserburgh.

“Few have accomplished what he has.

“From very humble beginnings under his leadership, BrewDog has grown to become the world’s leading craft brewer, employing 2,530 people across its head office, four breweries and over 120 bars.

“I am especially pleased he will continue to offer his insight, creative genius and energy to the board.”

Mr Arrow, who was hired as chief operating officer last September as part of succession planning for the top role, was previously managing director of Boots Opticians.

Before this, he spent a decade at Dixons Carphone, where he held senior roles across e-commerce, trading, operations, sales and transformation.