Jamie Oliver to close six restaurants after Brexit vote

Outlets account for less than 5% of chain’s turnover and company aims to redeploy staff

Chef Jamie Oliver: the restuarants that are closing are his Jamie’s Italian outlets, of which he has 42 in the UK and 36 elsewhere including Dublin

Chef Jamie Oliver: the restuarants that are closing are his Jamie’s Italian outlets, of which he has 42 in the UK and 36 elsewhere including Dublin

 

Jamie Oliver is to close six of his Italian restaurants in the UK after tough trading and the “pressures and unknowns” following the Brexit vote.

Oliver intends to close Jamie’s Italian restaurants in Aberdeen, Exeter, Cheltenham, Richmond, Tunbridge Wells and Ludgate Hill, near London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, by the end of the first quarter of the year.

A spokeswoman for Jamie Oliver said the announcement will not impact the chain’s only restaurant in the Republic, at Dundrum Town Centre.

“As every restuarant owner knows, this is a tough market and post-Brexit the pressures and unknowns have made it even harder,” said Simon Blagden, chief executive of the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group.

The closures will affect about 120 employees, less than 5 per cent of the restaurant chain’s total staff, and the company aims to offer them alternative jobs at other Jamie’s Italian outlets.

Launching 22 more

“These closures are in no way a reflection on the dedication and commitment of our staff and my first priority is to try and secure those affected alternative jobs,” said Blagden. “Where this isn’t possible, we’ll be working with them to find alternative employment.”

Blagden said a combination of high costs of ingredients, staff training and lower footfall had forced the restaurant closures.

“Because we refuse to compromise on the quality and provenance of our ingredients and our commitment to training and developing our staff, we need restaurants that can serve an average of 3,000 covers every week to be sustainable,” he added.

Blagden said the six restaurants accounted for less than 5 per cent of the restaurant chain’s total turnover and overall the chain continues to perform well home and abroad.

“In the UK we will be focusing on our core Jamie’s Italian estate and on the expansion of the Barbecoa brand which will see two new openings in 2017,” he said. “Internationally we plan to launch another 22 Jamie’s Italian restaurants with our current partners and are also looking forward to focusing on running and developing further our newly acquired Australian restaurants.”

Thanking staff

In November, Oliver moved to buy back his restaurant business in Australia after Keystone Group, which ran the operation, went into receivership and put the six-strong franchise up for sale.

Oliver currently has 42 Jamie’s Italian restaurants in the UK and more than 36 abroad run under his name.

“Our overall business is in very good shape, we finished last year with like-for-like sales growth and an increase in covers,” said Blagden. “Jamie’s Italian has become a much-loved presence on the UK high street and we have our teams to thank for that.”

In 2015, Oliver’s group of companies, which also spans areas including TV production, books and the FoodTube digital venture, increased its total revenues by 2 per cent to £158 million with pre-tax profits of £10.2 million.

The biggest contributor was Jamie’s Italian, where turnover rose by nearly 9 per cent to £116.1 million, although profits fell by 39 per cent from £3.8 million to £2.3 million due to fees from a failed process to bring in private equity backing.

In 2015, Oliver closed the last of his delicatessens, Recipease, in Notting Hill just before Christmas affecting 40 staff; it followed the closure of branches in Clapham Junction and Brighton the previous year.

In 2014, Oliver gave up an attempt to revive traditional British grub, closing three of his four Union Jack restaurants. Only the branch in London’s Covent Garden continues to operate.

– Guardian