Jamie Oliver has said he is "deeply saddened" to announce that his UK restaurant group has fallen into administration.
KPMG has been appointed to handle the administration, which includes 22 Jamie's Italian sites, one Barbecoa restaurant, Jamie Oliver's Diner at Gatwick Airport and Fifteen London. All but the three Gatwick Airport eateries [two Jamie's Italian restaurants and the diner] have closed, with options being explored for those remaining open. Administrators have confirmed that today's closures will result in approximately 1,000 redundancies.
The group had been searching for additional investment since the beginning of the year, with the celebrity chef having made £4m available to support fundraising - on top of the more than £10m he put in prior to a CVA process last year - however, no investment was forthcoming.
Oliver said: "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."
Oliver's international restaurants as well as Fifteen Cornwall, which operates under a franchise agreement, will be unaffected as will the media and licensing arms of his business.
Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: "The current trading environment for companies across the casual dining sector is as tough as I've ever seen. The directors at Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group have worked tirelessly to stabilise the business against a backdrop of rising costs and brittle consumer confidence. However, after a sales process which sought to bring new investment into the business proved unsuccessful, the team took the incredibly difficult decision to appoint administrators."
He continued: "Unfortunately, with insufficient funds available to be able to trade the business in administration, all but the Gatwick airport restaurants have now closed. Our priority in the coming hours and days is to work with those employees who have been made redundant, providing any support and assistance they need."
The news comes little more than a year after a Company Voluntary Agreement for Oliver's Jamie's Italian brand saw the closure of 12 venues. In 2018 he had also been forced to close Barbecoa in London's Piccadilly and buy a second Barbecoa outlet near St Paul's Cathedral out of administration.
In an interview in September 2018 with The Caterer, Oliver described the period as the "the hardest, darkest, toughest, most emotional rollercoaster ever".
When Jamie's Italian launched with its first Oxford restaurant in 2008, people queued around the block to get a table. The celebrity chef had said that on launching the chain he wanted to "democratise the mid-market".
But both Oliver and Jon Knight, chief executive of the chef's restaurant group, later acknowledged that the restaurants had failed to keep step with the chef's more agile media company as well as the conditions on the high street, and set about reengaging customers and making the smaller portfolio sustainable.
In September 2018 Oliver told The Caterer that "everything and more" had gone into saving the restaurant business and he remained determined to make it a success. He added: "I am very, very committed and I believe in it."
The last financial results available for the group relate to 2017. The company detailed a 10.8% loss in revenues from the restaurant arm of Oliver's empire to £100.6m. In a telling sign of the difficulties seen on the high street total earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell by 78.4% to £2.1m before exceptional items, down from £9.7m in 2016.
Matthew Thomson, chief executive of Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall at Watergate Bay and the Cornwall Food Foundation, confirmed the restaurant would be unaffected.
He said: "We are really sorry to have heard today that the Jamie Oliver restaurants are going into administration.
"Fifteen Cornwall operates independently of the Jamie Oliver restaurant group as a charitable social enterprise under licence to Jamie Oliver and therefore is not affected by the changes in the restaurant group.
"Fifteen Cornwall is very much open for business, continuing the legacy started by Jamie at Fifteen, serving amazing Cornish food, mentoring young people and investing in our team."