Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver says he is “devastated” after his restaurant group entered into administration at the cost of 1000 jobs being lost.
An ambassador for Woolworths in Australia, Oliver, 43, who became famous for his popular TV shows, founded his Jamie’s Italian brand of restaurants in 2008.
The wealthy chef’s restaurant group also includes Barbecoa, a steakhouse, and Jamie Oliver’s Diner.
Oliver posted a tweet Tuesday night saying he appreciated “how difficult this is for everyone affected” by the closure of at least 23 of his 25-restaurant chain.
“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,” he posted on Twitter.
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
The Jamie Oliver Group said it had appointed Will Wright and Mark Orton of KPMG to oversee the administration process.
Jamie’s Italian has five stores in Australia – Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Sydney – with main meals ranging from $26 to $49 however there is no indication these eateries are affected.
Oliver, who was discovered by the BBC while working as a chef in London’s River Cafe, gained widespread fame for his “Naked Chef” show, which was broadcast in dozens of countries.
He used his reputation to put pressure on politicians to combat growing child obesity problems by campaigning for healthier school meals.
In a statement issued Wednesday morning (Australian time), Oliver thanks his 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 … 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,” he added.
Unite, the union representing restaurant workers, said the development was a “devastating blow for the chain’s hardworking and loyal workforce”.
The union also asked for assurances that staff would be “protected and paid all the money they’re owed, including wages, holiday and redundancy”.
Twitter reacted with negative criticism however one British MP praised Oliver for “trying to create something new”.
Jamie Oliver is going to take a lot of stick for this. He shouldn’t. He tried to create something new. He employed people who were down on their luck. If it’s now failed, we should celebrate more than 10 years of doing something brave and good. https://t.co/pO2YVPvmwm
— Nick Boles MP (@NickBoles) May 21, 2019
Oliver’s restaurant chain is the latest victim of a brutal trading environment on Britain’s high streets.
In March, Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) said it planned to close more than a third of its Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner outlets, while Carluccio’s, Prezzo, Strada and Gourmet Burger Kitchen closed branches in 2018.
Jamie Oliver’s business empire reportedly suffered a £20 million ($37 million) slump last year and was forced to close many restaurants.
However these financial problems had been offset by the success of the celebrity chef’s media business, including cook books and TV shows.