Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver's Restaurant Empire Collapses
By Dave Basner
May 24, 2019
Jamie Oliver has made a name for himself as a celebrity chef, starting with his hosting role on the show The Naked Chef and followed by his best-selling cookbooks and campaigns for kids to eat healthier. He was also able to build a restaurant empire on his name, opening dozens of eateries in the UK. However, this week his restaurant group went into administration, the British equivalent of bankruptcy.
Jamie did everything he could to stop it from happening, including putting nearly $10 million of his own money into the restaurants but it didn't change anything. He told the Financial Times, "We had simply run out of cash," adding that he found out about the bankruptcy hours before his company had to declare it. He said, "We hadn't expected it. This is just not normal, in any business. You have quarterly meetings, You do board meetings. People supposed to manage that stuff should manage that stuff."
Asked why it happened, Jamie responded, "I honestly don’t know [what happened]. We're still trying to work it out, but I think that the senior management we had in place were trying to manage what they would call the perfect storm — rents, rates, the high street declining, food costs, Brexit, increase in the minimum wage. There was a lot going on." The company's CEO added, "We were opening too many restaurants, too quickly, in the wrong places. We were opening in places that weren't university towns and didn’t have enough of a tourism element."
The news means that Jamie has to close all but three of his 25 UK restaurants.
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. Jamie Oliver— Jamie Oliver (@jamieoliver) May 21, 2019
That means that 1,000 employees are now out of work, something that has truly upset the chef. According to Metro, in an email to his former employees, Jamie wrote, "I appreciate how difficult this news is for everyone affected and I want to assure you that i have explored every possible avenue available and exhausted all options over the past months to try and save this business. I have personally invested everything I could to try and turn things around."
Oliver went on to say that employees will still get their full salary up to the date of the closure, ending his letter, "You guys are the best in the business and I know you will move on to great things in no time at all. I'm truly sorry and give you all my love, gratitude and most importantly wish you all the luck in the world. Today is a really sad day. Big love as ever."
The only three of Jamie's restaurants that will stay open are all located at London's Gatwick Airport.
Photo: Getty Images