Oliver’s restaurant empire in huge debt


Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant empire has racked up debts of 71.5 million ($NZ138 million) with staff owed 2.2 million ($4.1 million) it has been revealed.
Reports have emerged that the tv star begged landlords to cut rents in his remaining restaurants in a move aimed to stop the chain from collapsing entirely after reported losses of 10m last year.
High Court documents seen by the Sun on Sunday say the company owes 30.2m in overdrafts and loans. The company is also 41.3m in the red with creditors such as HMRC, landlords and suppliers and staff are also owed 2.2m. The documents show suppliers for the restaurant chain are owed more than 400,000 combined.
The tv chef’s chain, which now has 25 restaurants in the United Kingdom and 28 overseas, last week said 12 of the restaurants would close as part of a company restructure.
The restructuring plan, which was backed by 95% of his creditors, means 12 of the 25 sites will shut, with the loss of 450 jobs. Among the branches for the chop are Bristol, Harrogate and Kingston.
The company voluntary arrangement, an insolvency process, will secure rent reductions on his remaining restaurants to keep the company afloat. Oliver and his wife Jools are worth a reported 150m. AP
The couple recently shared photos of their plush 10m home in Hampstead, North London on social media. The documents show that the Oliver’s personal assets are not at risk if the business goes into liquidation.
Last year, the tv star closed six restaurants blaming brutal trading conditions and rising Brexit cost pressures causing the pound to weaken and the cost of ingredients bought from Italy to rise as well as staff costs and lower footfall.
In recent years however, the chain has come under fire by disgruntled diners denouncing the food and service in on-line reviews.
Ex-staff members have also slammed the company for ‘terrible tips’ along with ‘low salary and bullying’.
A spokesman for Jamie’s Italian told The Times they had received no complaints from staff over “being unable to earn a decent living”.
The spokesman added: “We’ve had no recent bullying grievances or official complaints. If there was a ‘bullying’ culture we would not get the staff satisfaction results that we do. We do not tolerate any sort of bullying in our business.”
In 2015, Jamie’s Italian rejected claims that their tipping system is unfair as staff claimed that it bears no relation to how much they actually earn in tips.
In a statement on Friday:”We are pleased to have received the overwhelming support from our creditors for our proposal to reshape Jamie’s Italian restaurants. We have a strong brand and are focused on continuing to deliver the levels of service, taste and the experience our loyal customers deserve.
“We are working hard to ensure that our estate is fit for the current trading environment and we feel confident that this newly shaped business will provide strong opportunities for growth and profitability.”
The chef, who has a string of successful cooking shows and cookbooks under his belt, gave up an attempt to revive traditional British grub after closing all four of his Union Jack Piazzas with the last restaurant in London’s Covent Garden closing last year. New Zealand Herald