Jamie Oliver restaurant chain all washed up

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver says he’s “devastated” after the collapse of his restaurant chain left around 1,000 people without a job.

A last-ditch effort to tie up new funding failed before the announcement.

The business began with the opening of London’s Fifteen restaurant in 2002 and grew to encompass more than 20 Jamie’s Italian restaurants and two Barbecoa steakhouses. Just three restaurants, all at Gatwick Airport, will remain in operation, although it is possible that other parts of the business might be resuscitated.

“I am deeply saddened by this outcome and would like to thank all of the people who have put their hearts and souls into this business over the years,” Oliver tweeted.

Administrators KPMG said in a statement: “The group had recently undertaken a process to secure additional investment into the business and, since the beginning of this year, Jamie Oliver has made available additional funds of £4m to support the fundraising.

“However, with no suitable investment forthcoming and in light of the very difficult current trading environment, the directors resolved to appoint administrators.”

KPMG also said Oliver’s holding company would make sure all staff received pay up to the date when administrators were appointed. The Sun newspaper reported many staff arrived at work not knowing of the administration.
International restaurants trading under the Jamie’s name are not affected, KPMG said.

Oliver, 43, is a British chef whose casual cooking style and easygoing manner made him a television superstar.

Oliver put many millions of his own money into the venture, including a reported £13 million since 2017.

The business was hit with higher ingredients costs when the UK pound dropped in value after the Brexit vote, and consumer confidence in the UK has been at five-year lows.

Analysts said this week that the collapse underlined the tough trading conditions in the UK restaurant business.

Consultancy Deloitte says 80 bar, restaurant and hotel businesses went into administration in England and Wales last year. Another 36 used ‘company voluntary arrangements’ to restructure, among them the Prezzo Italian restaurant chain, which closed 90 outlets.

“The current trading environment for companies across the casual dining sector is as tough as I’ve ever seen,” said Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator.

With a personal fortune claimed by some media outlets to have topped US$400 million, Oliver will survive the loss.
Oliver’s only Australian restaurant, the fourth in the Fifteen chain, was set up in Melbourne in 2006 and closed at the start of 2011.

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