KPMG administrators installed as Jamie's Italian collapses

23 May 2019 3 min. read

A restaurant chain belonging to celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has become the latest casualty of the UK’s sustained casual dining crunch. KPMG has been appointed to oversee the administration of the 25 locations, after a CVA last year failed to dig the company out of trouble.

While the UK’s economy looks to have staved off recession for the meantime, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and a number of other challenges have seen the problems of the casual dining scene bleed into 2019. Figures published last month by consulting firm Kantar found that full service restaurants saw sales decline by 6% in the year to March 2019, as customers favoured experiential outlets and lower-cost venues.

The repressed wages of the bulk of the UK’s working population have led many consumers to scale back on ‘luxury spending’, something which has not impacted on premium brands, or budget eateries, but has severely squeezed the UK’s mid-market chains. This, combined with fears around access to resources and talent on the continent after Halloween this year are fuelling concerns about an over saturation of the market.

KPMG administrators installed as Jamie's Italian collapses

With a growing number of dining chains floundering last year, amid poor sales figures and mounting debt, TV chef Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian chain was among those to enter into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), in a bid to secure its future. The self-styled Naked Chef’s brand announced 12 Jamie’s Italian closures in 2018, on top of seven closed the year before, leaving the chain with 25 surviving locations.

The move came after the chef had put £3 million of his own money into his restaurant businesses. Unfortunately, the efforts to preserve the brand ultimately proved futile, and the group, which includes the Jamie's Italian chain, Barbecoa and Fifteen, has appointed KPMG as administrator. All 25 restaurants, including 23 Jamie’s Italian outlets, are impacted by the move, putting up to 1,300 jobs at risk across the UK. At the same time, HSBC – the company's main bank lender – is facing a multimillion pound loss if the restaurant chain collapses, according to Sky News.

Speaking to the BBC, Oliver said, "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."

Will Wright and Mark Orton of KPMG will now put the 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.