Jamie Oliver's Restaurant Group Declares Bankruptcy, 1,000 Jobs Lost
In a “devastating” move this week, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver put his restaurant group into administration, a form of bankruptcy in the U.K. It cited continuing struggles with debt and increasing competition in the market.
Nearly 1,000 employees have lost their jobs as a result of the collapse. The restaurant group, which includes Jamie’s Italian, Jamie Oliver’s Diner, and Barbecoa steakhouses, has already shuttered 22 of 25 restaurants with notices posted outside of each restaurant. KPMG, the firm appointed to administer business for creditors, will determine what will happen to the remaining two Jamie’s Italian restaurants and Jamie Oliver’s Diner at Gatwick Airport.
“The current trading environment for companies across the casual dining sector is as tough as I’ve ever seen,” Will Wright, an administrators at KPMG, said in a statement. “The directors at Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group have worked tirelessly to stabilize the business against a backdrop of rising costs and brittle consumer confidence.”
Oliver, who rose to fame as the “Naked Chef,” set up the restaurant group almost a decade ago. Over the past year alone, Oliver funneled £4 million or about $5 million in U.S. currency into the business.
"[KPMG] 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," said the administrators in a statement. "However, with no suitable investment forthcoming and in light of the very difficult current trading environment, the directors resolved to appoint administrators."
"I appreciate how difficult this is for everyone affected," Oliver told the BBC.
On Twitter, Oliver also expressed his feelings about the closures.
I’m devastated that our much-loved UK restaurants have gone into administration. 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. Jamie Oliver— Jamie Oliver (@jamieoliver) May 21, 2019
"I would also like to thank all the customers who have enjoyed and supported us over the last decade, it's been a real pleasure serving you,” Oliver said in a statement. "We launched Jamie's Italian in 2008 with the intention of positively disrupting mid-market dining in the UK High Street, with great value and much higher quality ingredients, best-in-class animal welfare standards and an amazing team who shared my passion for great food and service. And we did exactly that."
The Unite union told the BBC the closures were a "devastating blow for the chain's hardworking and loyal workforce. Restaurants are not being helped by the current economic uncertainty, although those businesses like Jamie Oliver's that dashed for expansion in recent years seem particularly precarious. As ever, it is the workers at the restaurant and in the supply chain who bear the heavy cost of boardroom decisions."
This is not the first time Oliver has experienced financial trouble in his restaurants. In 2016, Oliver used his own money to try to save his restaurants, but it wasn’t enough. The following year, Oliver closed about 20 restaurants and pizzerias—including his Union Jack restaurants. His magazine, Jamie, which had been running for nearly a decade also folded.
Outside of the U.K., Oliver’s international restaurants—including Jamie's Italian, Jamie's Pizzeria, and Jamie's Deli—have not been affected and will continue to operate normally. The BBC also reported that Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall at Watergate Bay, which operates under a franchise, is unaffected.
Oliver’s empire expands beyond his restaurants and includes writing Naked Chef cookbooks and hosting television shows. A champion for healthy eating, Oliver has been behind the movement to get healthier options into schools in the U.K. and U.S.