The UK arm of Jamie Oliver’s troubled restaurant chain has collapsed into administration, resulting in the loss of more than 1,000 jobs and leaving the celebrity chef “devastated”.
Administrators from KPMG were appointed yesterday to oversee the closure of 22 of the 25 stores operating across Britain, which included the Jamie’s Italian chain and Barbecoa and Fifteen.
In a statement, the administrators blamed “very difficult” trading conditions for the collapse, and said the administration was required despite a significant investment of £4 million ($7.3 million) from Oliver earlier this year, the BBC reports.
“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,” the administrators said.
“However, with no suitable investment forthcoming and in light of the very difficult current trading environment, the directors resolved to appoint administrators.”
The Australian arm of Oliver’s restaurants has collapsed twice in the past three years, for the first time in 2016 when it was operated by Keystone Hospitality Group. It was then bought back by Jamie Oliver despite numerous other buyers showing interest.
However, the local arm collapsed again in 2018 with one location being shut down and another five sold off. At the time, it was revealed the British parent company had $126 million in outstanding debts.
Remaining international locations of Jamie Oliver restaurants will not be affected by the British company’s collapse, reports the BBC.
In a tweet, Oliver said he was “devastated” by the outcome.
“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,” he said.
“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,” he added in a statement.
Celebrity chefs have long struggled to make their mark in Australia, with Adriano Zumbo’s patisserie chain collapsing last year. Speaking to Crikey, Dr Brent Coker, consumer psychologist at the University of Melbourne, said it was because the quality of food in Australia is, broadly, much better than the US.
“When consumers make a decision about restaurants or cafes to eat at, there’s a few things that go through their mind,” Coker told Crikey.
“They’ll consider location, price, availability, ambience, taste, and they’ll often associate these celebrity brands with quality and taste. The problem is that Australia’s already well-known for having really good quality food. So that mutes the impact of the brand on the decision.”