Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has broken his silence after his restaurant group went into administration on Tuesday. All but three of his 25 restaurants in the UK have been closed with immediate effect, including Jamie’s Italian chain, Barbecoa and Fifteen.
The board of Jamie’s Italian Limited appointed Will Wright and Mark Orton of KPMG to put the business into administration. According to a statement on Oliver’s website, Jamie Oliver Holdings, which operates Jamie Oliver Limited, Jamie Oliver Licensing Limited and Jamie’s Italian International Limited (the international franchise business) will continue to trade as normal.
Taking to Facebook shortly after the news broke, Oliver told fans he was “devastated” by the news.
“I’m devastated that our much-loved UK restaurants have gone into administration,” he said. “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.”
Just three restaurants at Gatwick Airport including two Jamie’s Italian restaurants and Jamie Oliver’s Diner will remain open “in the short term”. Customers have been advised that all future bookings have been cancelled with immediate effect.
They’ve also been informed that because the company is now in administration, anyone who’s paid a deposit for future bookings will have to wait until the joint administrator’s review has concluded before any refund will be confirmed. Customers who paid on a credit card will likely be able to make claims through their credit card providers.
The administrators are also reviewing the position of gift vouchers but if purchased with a credit card, customers should be able to claim refunds through their provider.
The Guardian reports that 1,000 jobs will be lost after the business called in administrators. In a statement, Oliver thanked staff and suppliers who worked for the business for more than 10 years.
“I appreciate how difficult this is for everyone affected,” he said.
Meanwhile, KPMG said its priority was working with employees who have been made redundant by providing support and assistance when needed.
Staff were pictured outside Oliver’s restaurants, with The Sun reporting many turned up to work without knowing about the closures. It is claimed staff were told about their job losses through emails and conference calls just 30 minutes before news broke.
One staff member told the publication: “I’m really angry because Jamie won’t be the one looking for a job and struggling to pay his bills, it’ll be poor saps like us who worked for him.”
Fans have flooded Oliver’s social media accounts with well-wishes.
One person on Facebook wrote: “I admire and love your passion for cooking. I’ve been to your restaurant Fifteen in London and really enjoyed the foods. Wishing you all the best for the future. Stay strong and I hope one day you’ll be back!”
Another comment read: “So sad. Wishing you good luck with future ventures. Thanks for giving us amazing food and excellent service over the years.”
A third added: “Jamie, I am so sorry this is happening to you and your staff. I have enjoyed eating at Jamie’s Italian and wish you and your teams all the best.”