For years, Jamie Oliver has been one of the top chefs in the world. His shows, cookbooks, and restaurants are basically household names, and his feud with Gordon Ramsay is always good for some entertainment.
However, on May 21, it was announced that Oliver's UK restaurants went into administration, which is a form of bankruptcy. It was the collapse of an empire. All but three of Oliver's locations will be closed, and more than 1,000 jobs will be lost. Most employees learned about the closures on Tuesday, the same day as the announcement. Others were sent an email by Oliver. That email has been released, and Oliver made it clear he didn't take the decision lightly.
I'm absolutely devastated that we have had no choice but to put our much-loved UK restaurants into administration.
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.
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.
Oliver also posted about the closures on Twitter.
"I'm devastated that our much-loved UK restaurants have gone into administration. 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," he wrote.
When Oliver says he invested as much as he could, he really meant it. He previously poured nearly $10 million of his own money into his restaurant group, just mere hours before it was going to be bankrupt.
"We had simply run out of cash," he shared. "I honestly don't know [what happened]," Oliver went on to explain. "We're still trying to work it out, but I think that the senior management we had in place were trying to manage what they would call the perfect storm "” rents, rates, the high street declining, food costs, Brexit, increase in the minimum wage. There was a lot going on."
The restaurant group's CEO, Jon Knight, also pointed out the location of the restaurants wasn't ideal.
"We were opening too many restaurants, too quickly, in the wrong places. We were opening in places that weren't university towns and didn't have enough of a tourism element," he said.
KPMG, the firm appointed to act as the restaurant group's administrator, released a statement of their own. They acknowledged that paying the employees is a top priority. It's been noted that all employees will be paid their full salary up to the date of the restaurant closures.
Both Jamie's Italian restaurants and Jamie Oliver's Diner at Gatwick Airport will continue to trade in the short term while the joint administrators explore options for the site.
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 stabilize the business against a backdrop of rising costs and brittle consumer confidence.
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.
It's upsetting to see his restaurant's collapse after years of hard work, but that's the risk you take when you grow your businesses so quickly, and in such an unstable market.