The collapse of Jamie Oliver’s UK restaurant empire could leave 1,000 workers out of a job as the 25 branches close, but shutting up shop was something Oliver attempted to avoid at all costs, a leaked email has revealed.
According to some staff, workers were only told the restaurant chain was closing on the same day that the news was made public.
“At 10 o’clock we had two accountants from KMPG show up and they handed us a notice to say that the business has ceased trading as of now,” an employee told the Manchester Evening News.
“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.”
But according to Metro, many staff also found out from an email from Oliver himself.
In the leaked email, Oliver described himself as “absolutely devastated” over the restaurants’ failure, and said challenges in the casual dining sector, decline of the high street and high business rates were to blame.
“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,” the Naked Chef added.
“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.”
Three restaurants to remain open
In a statement, administrators KPMG said the three restaurants owned by Oliver at London’s Gatwick would remain open as the administrators consider their options.
“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,” Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator said.
“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.”
Here’s the full email:
Dear 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
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