Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s British restaurant chain has gone into administration, partly due to increased competition and escalating rents in local commercial districts.
- All but three of Jamie Oliver’s UK restaurants will close, with immediate redundancies
- The restaurant he started to train disadvantaged young people will remain open
- Overseas eateries will not be affected, though some Australian venues were sold off in 2016
The insolvency will leave 1,000 people out of work and has reignited concerns about local retail and food outlets in the United Kingdom, which are struggling to attract customers.
Oliver, 43, a well-known figure in the UK and beyond for his popular TV shows and top-selling cookery books, founded his Jamie’s Italian brand of high street restaurants in 2008.
“I’m devastated that our much-loved UK restaurants have gone into administration,” he wrote on Twitter.
“I am deeply saddened by this outcome and would like to thank all of the staff and our suppliers who have put their hearts and souls into this business over the years.”
Financial firm KPMG, which will oversee the process, said all but three of the group’s 25 eateries would close.
The company had been in trouble for at least two years, despite Oliver’s global fame on the back of his cookbooks and television shows.
Last year, it shuttered 12 of its 37 sites in Britain, while five branches of the Australian arm of Jamie’s Italian were sold off and another put into administration.
The remaining overseas branches of Jamie’s Italian, Jamie’s Pizzeria and Jamie’s Deli, are not affected, nor is Fifteen Cornwall, a training restaurant for disadvantaged young people that operates as a franchise.
Oliver said Jamie’s Italian was launched in 2008 “with the intention of positively disrupting mid-market dining” with higher quality ingredients, animal welfare standards, better service and good value.
But the launch came just as local businesses throughout the UK were squeezed by the onset of the 2008 financial crisis. Rising food prices, increasing rents and competition took a toll.
Oliver has personally pumped 13 million pounds ($24 million) into his Italian chain, but it was not enough.
“I appreciate how difficult this is for everyone affected,” he said.
Will Wright, a partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said the directors at Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group had worked hard to stabilise the business, but costs were rising and consumer confidence was brittle.
He said the priority now was to support staff members who had been made redundant.