Jamie Oliver Shuts Most UK Restaurants with 1,000 Left Jobless

LONDON – British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s restaurant chain went into administration on Tuesday, leaving 1,000 people without jobs as the majority of branches ceased trading immediately in the latest blow for Britain’s high street.

People walk past a closed down Jamie’s Italian restaurant in London, Britain, May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Oliver, 43, a well-known figure in Britain and beyond for his popular TV shows and top-selling cookery books, founded his Jamie’s Italian brand of high street restaurants in 2008.

“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 said.

It appears that the Jamie Oliver restaurants in South Africa are safe! According to Reuters Jamie Oliver’s international restaurant franchise business is “unaffected”.

In the UK there will be about 1,000 redundancies as 22 of 25 branches closed immediately, with Gatwick Airport’s two Jamie’s Italian branches and Jamie Oliver’s Diner staying open in the short-term. The group employs around 1,300 people in total.

One employee told Reuters: “It’s a strange time at the moment, and all the casual dining and high street restaurants are in decline.”

Oliver’s 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.

Changing customer habits have seen a rise in appetite for takeaway apps such as Just Eat and Deliveroo and favouring faster food service over high-street staples such as Jamie’s.

Oliver, who started cooking at the age of eight at his parents’ pub in Essex, northeast of London, was discovered by BBC television while working as a chef in London’s River Cafe in the late 1990s.

FILE PHOTO: British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver (L) receives a kiss from his wife Jules after he received an MBE from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in London, October 29, 2003. REUTERS/POOL/Matthew Fearn/File Photo

His “Naked Chef” show, which was broadcast in dozens of countries, made him a household name at the age of 21.

His recruitment of youngsters for Fifteen won him an honor from Queen Elizabeth in 2003, and he used his reputation to put pressure on politicians to combat growing child obesity problems by campaigning for healthier school meals.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Graphic by Andy Bruce; Editing by Stephen Addison, Alison Williams and Frances Kerry)