Only three remain in operation of Jamie Oliver’s UK restaurants, leading to the loss of 1,000 jobs. 300 jobs at the Gatwick outlets remain at risk.
The famous restaurateur expressed how deeply saddened he was by the blow to his chain of restaurants which started out with the opening of Fifteen in London last 2002. He thanked staff and suppliers who had put their hearts and souls into the business which he credited as a chain that transformed high street dining.
While the recently appointed KPMG administrators seek a buyer, only three outlets at Gatwick airport will continue to conduct business. The company had been seeking buyers in recent months after chef Oliver decided to sell amid heavy competition in the casual dining market. Potential buyers did come forward and the chef put up another £4 million (P250,000,000) of funds to support the business, but no suitable deal is yet found.
Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group is composed of 22 Jamie’s Italian outlets, the Fifteen and Barbecoa restaurants in London, and a Jamie’s Diner at Gatwick airport. The administration does not affect over 61 overseas outlets, including 25 Jamie’s Italians and Fifteen in Cornwall, all run by franchisees. The 10-year deal to open franchise sites in universities, hospitals and other locations in the UK and overseas with US caterer Aramark is also unaffected.
Consumer specialist at Kantar, Simon Quirk, explained that as economic and political uncertainty dented confidence, diners had been reluctant to spend on premium meals. They switched to cheaper dining at cafes and coffee shops, or gone for more exciting experiences, such as dine-in markets or in-store cafes, which are part of a day out.
Sales at Jamie’s Italian plummeted by nearly 11% last year to £101 million as it closed 12 restaurants and made about 600 staff redundant.
Photos courtesy of Jaime Oliver.