The Italian restaurant chain launched by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is more than $125 million in debt and owes staff more than $3 million, according to reports in the British press.
The Sun revealed on the weekend that Jamie’s Italian Limited, the UK company behind the restaurants, is £71.5 million ($125.9 million) in debt, owing staff £2.2 million ($AUD3.9 million) and suppliers £41.3 million ($AUD72.7 million).
The newspaper has viewed High Court documents detailing the debts, and reports that the business is currently subject to a Company Voluntary Arrangement that will allow some stores to continue to trade. However, 12 of the company’s 25 UK venues will be closed.
The company is reportedly looking at opportunities to restructure.
“We are working hard to ensure that our estate is fit for the current trading environment and we feel confident that this newly shaped business will provide strong opportunities for growth and profitability,” the company said in a statement.
Jamie’s Italian was launched by Oliver in 2008 and has operations in several overseas markets, including Australia, South Africa and Canada.
It is understood that only the UK Jamie’s Italian restaurants will be affected by the company voluntary arrangement.
However, the chain has previously faced challenging conditions in its expansion into Australia. The brand was operated by Keystone Hospitality Group when it launched in Australian in 2011, but Jamie Oliver purchased the Australian operations back after Keystone collapsed in 2016.
Keystone operated six Jamie’s Italian restaurants as well as a number of other hospitality venue across Australia, but was forced to look for a buyer for Jamie’s Italian after it entered receivership in 2016.
“This will be a really exciting moment for me personally, and I know the guys will be ecstatic to be back in-house,” Oliver said back in 2016 upon buying back the Australian operations.