FURIOUS staff lashed out at Jamie Oliver today after 1,000 jobs have been cut amid his restaurant chain’s collapse.
They were pictured tearfully waiting outside branches earlier, after turning up to work and finding the restaurants closed.
Rex Features Jamie Oliver launched his first Jamie’s Italian in 2008
Maverick Photography A member of staff at Jamie’s Italian in Liverpool reads a notice of the restaurant’s closure
gavin rodgers/pixel8000 Staff were seen eating pizza as they waited for news outside one of the restaurants in Piccadilly, London
They claim they were sacked by conference call just 30 minutes before the announcement that Jamie’s Italian Limited – which includes 23 Jamie’s Italian restaurants and 15 Barbecoa outlets – appointing KPMG as administrators.
One member of staff, who did not wish to be named, said: “Email is a pretty cold way to sack your staff.
“It was only half-an-hour before it was all over the news. 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.
“He and his management team got greedy. They believed their own hype and thought they’d make billions without investing in the business.
“It was getting to commercial and I felt under pressure to get customers seated and ordered and then out too quickly.
“On busy nights it felt like a conveyor belt. Why pay £100 plus for a meal when you feel under pressure to eat it quickly? You might as well go to McDonalds.”
The TV chef, 44, worth an estimated £100million despite the collapse of his restaurant empire, reportedly pumped £13million of his own money into the chain to try and save it.
Just three restaurants will now stay open in the short term after 22 were confirmed as closed – two Jamie’s Italian restaurants and Jamie Oliver’s Diner all based at Gatwick Airport.
Devastated staff at the flagship restaurant in Birmingham claim they were looped in to a conference call just 30 minutes before the announcement was made.
Chef Colin Roberts, 31, said: “Speculation was rife that something was up but when we were all told that the company had gone into administration and we’d lost our jobs it was a huge shock.
“The restaurant is one of the busiest outside London and it’s packed all the time.
“We had no idea this was coming and a lot of staff were in tears.
“I’ve been on the phone looking for work since I found out so hopefully I’ll get another job with another restaurant soon.”
FALL OF EMPIRE
The dad-of-five opened his first Jamie’s Italian in 2008 and saw rapid expansion across the UK in the early 2010s.
But last year, it was revealed that the Essex-born star’s firm owed staff £2.2m and was in £71.5million of debt.
Jamie’s Italian shut 12 of its 37 sites as part of a Company Voluntary Agreement and steakhouse chain Barbecoa went into a pre-pack administration.
Bosses had been hunting for fresh investment into the brand but were unable to attract the money needed to keep administrators at bay.
The 22 restaurants shut immediately
ALL but three restaurants based at Gatwick will close.
Jamie’s Italian closures:
London (Covent Garden)
London (London Bridge)
London (Westfield White City)
London (Westfield Stratford)
Barbecoa (One New Change shopping centre, London)
Fifteen (Hoxton, London)
Notices have already been displayed in shut down restaurants this afternoon informing customers of the news.
Staff in Liverpool were asked to wait outside the venue before being allowed to collect their belongings as they arrived.
And in Manchester, employees said they turned up to work as normal only to be told the business had ceased trading.
One said: “We didn’t know – nobody was aware of it. There were about 15 of us. It’s a bit of a shock to the system to everyone. Some people have been here since day one, so over 10 years.”
OLIVER ‘PUT HEART AND SOUL’ INTO BUSINESS
Jamie Oliver had an estimated net worth of around £150million two years ago but dropped out of the Sunday Times Rich List for the first time in eight years in 2018.
He recently splashed out £6m on a Tudor mansion in Essex which he and wife Jools are currently in the process of refurbishing.
In a statement, Oliver said he and staff had ‘put our hearts and souls into the business’ and described the administration as a ‘difficult time for everyone’.
He 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.”
‘ABSOLUTELY DEVASTATED’ – Email to staff in fullDear all restaurant staff,
I’m absolutely devastated that we have had no choice but to put our much-loved UK restaurants into administration, which means the fate of Jamie’s Italian UK, Fifteen London and Barbecoa is now in the hands of an administrator, who will be responsible for the operations of these restaurants and their future.
I appreciate how difficult this news is for everyone affected and I want to assure you that I have explored every possible avenue available and exhausted all options over the past months to try and save this business. I have personally invested everything I could to try and turn things around.
Once it became clear that an administration was our only option, I personally made sure that I was able to pay everyone’s salary to date, so none of you are left out of pocket for the great work you’ve done.
Everyone has tried so hard to support this wonderful business, but the well-publicised struggles of the casual dining sector and decline of the UK high street, along with soaring business rates amongst other things, have meant this storm was just too great for us to overcome.
Although I can’t physically be with everyone around the country today, I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for putting your hearts and souls into our restaurants.
There is so much to be proud of. We launched Jamie’s Italian in 2008 with the intention of positively disrupting mid-market dining in the high street in the UK, 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 – with an incredible response from the public and powering through the British recession. We won pretty much every award going, including the Soil Association’s number 1 kid’s menu on the high street every time it’s been awarded.
Our food standards have always set us apart from our competitors. All our ingredients have been the best possible quality and produced in a traceable and sustainable way. Our commitment to animal welfare, provenance and nutrition never wavered, even to the end. We stood up for what we all believe in: that customers deserve better, fairer, clearer more ethical delicious food with more nutritious options.
Fifteen was my very first restaurant but like no other restaurant since, this was also my first charity and social initiative. It’s been an incredible journey positively impacting on hundreds of kids over the last 16 years, with the vast majority going on to become talented and successful chefs in their own right. It was an absolute honour and joy to be a part of this and I’m so pleased that the team at Fifteen Cornwall still delivers amazing food and apprentice mentoring to continue this legacy and invest in young people.
Barbecoa was a passion project and a massive hit, we were one of the first to bring extraordinary meat, our own butchery and cooking over wood fire to London diners. We created a gorgeous space and delivered truly memorable dining experiences in one of the city’s most iconic settings.
I’m so proud of all these achievements which makes it even more painful to say goodbye. We’ve had the very best and sadly also the worst of it.
You guys are the best in the business and I know you will move on to great things in no time at all. I’m truly sorry and give you all my love, gratitude and most importantly wish you all the luck in the world.
Today is a really sad day.
Big love as ever
The struggling restaurant chain has been looking for a buyer in over the past few months after leaving 16 landlords £1million out of pocket.
Overseas, five branches of the Australian arm of Jamie’s Italian was sold off last year, while another was put into administration.
Despite the troubles, which forced Mr Oliver to pump £13 million of his own money into his Italian chain, he said earlier this year he remained confident about the business and that casual dining was primed for a comeback.
A spokesperson for the Jamie Oliver Group said: “The board of Jamie’s Italian Limited has appointed Will Wright and Mark Orton of KPMG to put its UK-based restaurant business into administration.
“Jamie Oliver Holdings, which operates Jamie Oliver Limited and Jamie Oliver Licensing Limited, as well as the international restaurant franchise business, Jamie’s Italian International Limited, will continue to trade as normal.
“Fifteen Cornwall, which operates under a franchise, is also unaffected.”
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Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “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.”
Splash News Jamie’s wife Jools is seen returning to their North London home today
Inside Jamie Oliver’s concept restaurant Fifteen
Customers and staff reading a notice outside Jamie’s Italian in Liverpool
Maverick Photography Staff collecting their belongings from the Liverpool outlet
gavin rodgers/pixel8000 The scene at Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden this afternoon
gavin rodgers/pixel8000 A closed sign has been placed at Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden, central London
Splash News The chef has been refurbishing a £6m mansion in Essex in recent months
PA:Press Association Jamie’s Italian shut 12 of its 37 sites last year
Alamy Oliver’s steakhouse chain Barbecoa went into a pre-pack administration
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