More than 1,000 jobs are now at risk amid reports that celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s restaurant business is about to collapse. According to multiple media outlets, the Naked Chef’s famous chain, which includes “Jamie’s Italian”, “Fifteen” and “Barbecoa”, is set to fall into administration, just two years after it narrowly avoided an earlier collapse.
Reports from Sky News, the BBC and others suggest that Oliver has been forced to contact financial firm KPMG to begin negotiations on an insolvency process that is to be formally announced later on Tuesday. The move, which looks set to cause a significant dent in Oliver’s estimated $400 million empire, jeopardises an estimated 1,300 jobs across the United Kingdom.
Though the news of total collapse is a stunning development, problems with the business have been apparent for some time. According to the Guardian, executives have been attempting to find buyers for the business, amid concerns that large high street chains are struggling to compete in a market that has become increasingly dominated by independent outlets and delivery companies. Similar problems, for instance, have already affected well-known chains such as Carluccio’s and Byron Burger, who have been forced into closing dozens of outlets over the last few years.
Speaking after the news became public, Jamie Oliver stated, "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. 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. 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."
For now, the precise ramifications of Oliver’s insolvency are unknown. However, it has become obvious that the high street dining scene is going through a period of dramatic transformation. In a market that’s arguably more competitive than ever, old established brands are struggling to stay relevant. What impact this will have on the industry as a whole remains to be seen.