Around 1,000 jobs go with collapse of Jamie Olivier’s UK empire

Irish Jamie’s Italian franchise operation in Dundrum is not affected by mass closures

 

About 1,000 staff will lose their jobs with the collapse of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s UK restaurant business.

However, the TV chef’s restaurant in the Republic is not affected by its sister company’s collapse into administration in the UK. Jamie’s Italian in Dundrum, Dublin 14, is operated under franchise agreement, controlled by restauranteur Gerry Fitzpatrick.

KPMG, which has been called in to administer the UK business, announced within hours that all but three of the group’s 25 UK outlets have closed with immediate effect.

“Oliver’s Diner at Gatwick Airport will continue to trade in the short term while the joint administrators explore options for the site,” KPMG said in a statement. “Regrettably, these closures will result in approximately 1,000 redundancies.”

Dublin restaurant

Mr Fitzpatrick told The Irish Times that the Irish business would be expanding in the coming months. He plans to open a new restaurant in Dublin city centre “before Christmas” called “Jamie Oliver”, a new concept being run with the British chef.

“I don’t know what’s happening in the UK. I think the UK is really volatile at the moment. The casual dining sector has been hit really hard,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

“We’ve nothing to do with the UK. We don’t have the same menu, we don’t have the same marketing, we operate completely differently.

“It’s not great to hear but it doesn’t affect us,” he added.

Jamie Oliver Holdings, which operates a licensing company and the international restaurant franchise business will continue to trade as normal, the company said in a statement.

Mr Oliver said on Tuesday: “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 for over a decade. I appreciate how difficult this is for everyone affected.

“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.

“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.”

New investor

The development follows a hunt for a new investor in the brand, with a number of private equity firms touted as mulling bids for a stake in the business.

Mr Oliver’s restaurant empire has taken a few knocks over the past two years. In 2018 Jamie’s Italian shuttered 12 of its 37 sites, with the latter tranche executed through a Company Voluntary Arrangement, akin to a voluntary insolvency. The TV chef’s steak house Barbecoa also went into a pre-pack administration, leading to the closure of its Piccadilly branch.

Overseas, five branches of the Australian arm of Jamie’s Italian were sold off last year, while another was put into administration. Despite the troubles, which forced Mr Oliver to pump £13 million (€14.8 million) of his own money into his Italian chain, he told Press Association earlier this year that casual dining was primed for a comeback. – Additional reporting: PA