Jamie Oliver has revealed he lost £25million in a failed attempt to prop up his doomed restaurant empire.
The TV chef admitted there had been ‘no plan B in case it goes down the toilet’ as he described the devastating collapse of the Jamie’s Italian high street restaurant chain.
In a frank and wide-ranging interview with The Times magazine, the celebrity chef recalled the chain of events that began in 2017 and ended with the closure of 22 restaurants, with 1,000 staff losing their jobs.
Jamie Oliver admitted there had been ‘no plan B in case it goes down the toilet’ as he described the devastating collapse of the Jamie’s Italian high street restaurant chain
Speaking for the first time about the collapse, he admitted that poor advice meant the ‘wool had been pulled over my eyes’ over the extent of the crisis.
At the time, it was believed Oliver, who is said to be worth £150million, spent £12.7million of his own money trying to save the business.
But he revealed to The Times that he had pumped double that amount into the fledgling restaurant chain.
He went on to blame rising rents, business rates and labour costs – all of which contributed to the restaurants’ closure.
He also admitted he had failed to keep up with a fast-changing economy where food delivery services such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo are winning huge market share from established chains.
‘I have to take full responsibility,’ he told the magazine. ‘I did believe I could turn it around. I put in £3million, another £3million, then another £3million, however the numbers went. But there was no good news.
The TV chef went on to blame rising rents, business rates and labour costs – all of which contributed to the restaurants’ closure. Pictured is Jamie Oliver with his five children – Poppy, 17, Daisy, 16, Petal, ten, Buddy, eight, and River, two – and his wife Jules
‘The restaurants as such weren’t doing badly. We were having to close the restaurants that were taking the most cash. Rent, business rates and the cost of labour were our worst enemies. And then there was the high street decline and people ordering food by Uber.’
But despite the huge loss of jobs, Oliver also accused his critics of ‘not thanking him’ for ‘employing a shed load of people’ and ‘keeping schools open because of tax’.
‘No one is ever going to thank me for starting up a business and employing a shedload of people,’ he said. ‘How many schools have been kept going because of the tax that JO businesses have put into the system?’
The chef was criticised for spending an unknown sum renovating his £6million Essex mansion while restaurant staff were losing their livelihoods.
The Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group had included 22 Jamie’s Italian outlets, plus London restaurants Fifteen and Barbecoa as well as Jamie’s Diner at Gatwick airport. In May, administrators at KPMG closed 22 of 25 restaurants.
Oliver admitted to taking the closure of London-based Fifteen, a social enterprise employing young people from difficult backgrounds, particularly badly – saying he thought the original concept was ‘genius’.
But despite the huge loss of jobs, Oliver also accused his critics of ‘not thanking him’ for ‘employing a shed load of people’ and ‘keeping schools open because of tax’
In 2002, Oliver, who has five children – Poppy, 17, Daisy, 16, Petal, ten, Buddy, eight, and River, two – with his wife Jules, spent all of his £650,000 earnings from the Naked Chef cookbook on Fifteen.
He later opened a second branch, near Newquay in Cornwall, which remains open today and is run by a franchisee.
His empire spent the next 15 years expanding thanks to the success of his cookbooks, which saw him become Britain’s best-selling non-fiction author.
But things came to a head in 2017 when he was forced to close Jamie Magazine. The Jamie At Home kitchenware range also ground to a halt, as did Recipease, his chain of delis.
Overseas there are still around 60 Oliver outlets, including 25 Jamie’s Italians, all run by franchisees.