news

Jamie Oliver was at the height of his success in 2014. This week, he closed 22 restaurants.

Jamie Oliver has announced that his restaurant chain has been put into administration, putting more than 1000 people out of a job.

“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,” wrote the celebrity chef in a statement.

All but three of the 25 UK restaurants left in Jamie’s Italian Limited are officially closed and in hands of administrators KPMG.

The administration doesn’t affect more than 61 overseas outlets run by franchisees.

Here is Jamie Oliver talking to Sunday Night about his financial troubles last year. Post continues after video.

Video via Sunday Night

The father-of-five said: “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”.

“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.

Will Wright, partner at KPMG told The Mirror: “The current trading environment for companies across the casual dining sector is as tough as I’ve ever seen”.

Staff were taken by surprise by the announcement, one employee told the Manchester Evening News: “At 10 o’clock we had two accountants from KMPG show up and they handed us a notice to say that the business has ceased trading as of now”.

“We didn’t know – nobody was aware of it. There were about 15 of us. It’s a bit of a shock to the system to everyone. Some people have been here since day one, so over 10 years.”

Jamie Oliver’s sharp rise to stardom

We first saw Oliver in 1999 when the BBC debuted his TV show The Naked Chef, and since then he’s been a permanent fixture on our screens and in our kitchens.

The 43-year-old went on to star in several cooking shows including Jamie’s Kitchen and Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, and is now broadcast worldwide across 220 channels.

Oliver has 20 books printed in 36 languages worldwide, of which he has sold more than 40 million copies of. In fact, after JK Rowling he is Britain’s second biggest selling author.

ADVERTISEMENT
jamie oliver 15 minute meals
Just one of Jamie Oliver's bestsellers. Image: supplied.

At the peak of his franchise career, he had 42 restaurants in the UK, as well as premises in the UAE, Australia and Canada.

He also has a BBQ meat restaurant called Barbecoa and a chain of cooking schools and delis called Recipease which closed at the the end of 2015.

Oliver has used his fame to spearhead several campaigns to get the UK eating healthier, launching the Jamie's School Dinner campaign and programme which resulted in major overhauls to the way food was served in British schools.

His #AdEnough campaign pushed for a ban on junk food adverts on TV and online prior to 9pm, along with the removal of advertisements of this kind from public transport.

Oliver has a net worth of $442 million AUD.

When it all went downhill

If there’s one thing all successful business-y type people agree on – it’s that you should never, ever mix business with pleasure.

Speaking to The Telegraph in 2017, Oliver admitted that while he “may have made money” in the last few years, he was down $150 million since his popularity peaked in 2014.

The cause he said, was hiring family members and friends to work with him.

He admitted to the publication he has "lists of names he shouldn't have collaborated with".

Oliver's own brother-in-law Paul Hunt, who was one of five directors of the chef's restaurant chain, was once banned for insider trader and was an "incompetent bully" to work for, according to The Times.

Sources last year told the publication he was at the helm of a string of cost-cutting measures and "knows virtually nothing about restaurants and even less about publishing".

Oliver also blames the “30 to 40 bit” of his life where he didn’t plan for his financial future well.

In December 2017, Oliver invested $5.5 million AUD of his own money into his restaurant chain, before closing 12 franchises in early 2018.

ADVERTISEMENT

A few months later in February, it was revealed that Jamie’s Italians had a debt of $129.5 million AUD. This included a staff debt of almost $4 million AUD, plus loans, and rent owed to landlords.

“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,” Jamie Oliver told the Financial Times at the time.

Speaking to Sunday Night at the end of last year, Oliver said it was "really tough".

He revealed that while he appears hugely successful, he has failed in about 50 per cent of his endeavours.

"Don't be under the illusion I am untouchable," the told the program.

Family life

Even though he did mix business with pleasure, Oliver has never mixed his immediate family unit with his professional endeavours.

He credits his successful 20-year marriage to wife Jools with whom he shares five children, to "keeping work really separate".

“You probably know more about what I’m doing than she does,” he told The Telegraph. “You’ve just got to make stuff work, although we definitely don’t have enough time for just us.”

Their youngest child River was born just two years ago, they also have Buddy, 9, Petal, 10, Daisy, 16 and Poppy, 17.

00:00 / ???