Jamie Oliver’s flagship London restaurant is cleared out by bailiffs

Jamie’s Italian takeaway: Bailiffs clear out Jamie Oliver’s flagship London restaurant and remove furniture and kitchen equipment – a week after his empire collapsed putting 1,300 jobs at risk

  • Bailiffs have been clearing out the flagship Jamie’s Italian restaurant near Piccadilly Circus this morning
  • The site is one of 22 of his 25 locations to close immediately following the business entering administration
  • Oliver’s chain has debts of £71.5million and valuable assets are being removed to help cover the costs
  • It took the team of bailiffs four hours to clear site of tables, chairs, kitchen equipment and even a scooter 

Jamie Oliver’s flagship London Italian restaurant has been cleared out by bailiffs today after the business went into administration.

The celebrity chef’s beleaguered chain Jamie’s Italian has debts of £71.5million and workers were seen today removing valuables from the eaterie near Piccadilly Circus.

Bailiffs were seen loading tables and chairs into a lorry outside the restaurant, which opened in 2014, with furniture piled up inside the vehicle. 

The administration has put 1,300 jobs at risk and Oliver was forced to close 22 of his 25 sites immediately. 

The 43-year-old, who has netted £240 million during 20 years in the public eye, said he was ‘devastated’ and ‘deeply saddened by the outcome’ in a statement.

He thanked staff and suppliers, adding: ‘I appreciate how difficult this is for everyone affected. It’s been a real pleasure serving you.’ 

But many of his staff were left upset after turning up for their shifts only to find restaurants were shut, with notices left on doors and windows.  

It took the team of bailiffs four hours to clear the site of valuable assets, with kitchen equipment, machinery and even an orange scooter among the items removed.  

Jamie Oliver’s flagship Jamie’s Italian restaurant near Piccadilly Circus has been cleared out by bailiffs today, pictured

Among the assorted items taken away from the central London restaurant was an orange scooter, pictured right

Oliver, pictured with wife Jools, has netted £240 million during 20 years in the public eye but said he was ‘devastated’ and ‘deeply saddened by the outcome’

Bailiffs wearing reflective jackets were seen carefully loading various pieces of furniture and cooking equipment, including this chopping board, pictured, into a lorry

Photos of the interior of the restaurant, pictured, show how furniture had been deconstructed and piled up against walls as the once thriving business began to be emptied

Other workers teamed up to carry heavy pieces of kitchen machinery, pictured, out of the London eaterie and into the vehicle

Bailiffs brought in dozens of plastic crates, pictured, to pile up items from the bars and kitchens including cutlery and glassware

The crumbling chain was also beset by a tide of poor reviews, including from restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin who in 2018 said she would have to be ‘paid to go back’ to his restaurant in Westfield London. 

Timeline: How Jamie Oliver’s chains plunged into debt

2008: Jamie’s Italian opened its first restaurant in 2008.

2015: Jamie At Home, which contracted agents to sell his cookware range at parties, ceased trading after racking up losses. The company began in 2009, as part of the Jamie Oliver organisation, before being licensed to another firm in 2013, but shut up shop in 2015.

2017: Jamie’s businesses lost £20m, forcing him to shut 18 of his Italian restaurants – leading to the loss of 600 jobs.

Chain was struggling with debts of £71.5m and teetered on the edge of bankruptcy before the chef injected his savings into the business. 

The firm also took out £37m in loans from HSBC and other companies. 

In 2017 he closed the last of his four his Union Jack Piazzas, in London’s Covent Garden. 

2018: Jamie’s Italian shuttered 12 of its 37 sites, with the latter tranche executed through a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

He also came under fire for failing to pay suppliers after his upmarket steak restaurant Barbecoa crashed into administration, leading to the closure of its Piccadilly branch.  

The restaurant in St Paul’s continued to trade and was bought out by a new company set up by Oliver, who was no longer legally liable for the debts. 

2019: All but three of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants close after the business called in administrators, with 1,300 staff facing redundancy. 

The chef himself previously blamed his empire’s parlous state on Brexit, which he said was among the factors which caused a ‘perfect storm’, as well as rental costs, local government rates and the increase in the minimum wage. 

In 2017 the father-of-five, who lives in a £6million 16th century Essex mansion, ploughed £12.7million of his own money into his struggling business after being given two hours to save the chain.  

According to Companies House, Jamie Oliver Holdings Ltd – the umbrella company under which he runs his myriad businesses – turned over £32 million last year – a staggering £87,670 a day. 

But Jamie’s Italian was on the brink of collapse two years ago with the chef revealing in an interview it had ‘simply run out of cash’ and run up millions in debt.

The business said it had appointed KPMG to oversee the process.

More than 1,300 jobs are understood to be at risk nationally from the collapse of the business, which also includes Oliver’s Barbecoa restaurant near St Paul’s Cathedral, and Fifteen London. 

The process does not affect Mr Oliver’s other companies, which handle his media and licensing deals, while the international branch of Jamie’s Italian is also unaffected.

Fifteen Cornwall, which operates under a franchise, is also not involved.

It follows a hunt for a new investor in the Jamie’s Italian brand, with a number of private equity firms touted as mulling bids for a stake in the business. 

Overseas, five branches of the Australian arm of Jamie’s Italian were sold off last year, while another was put into administration.

Oliver has built his vast fortune on TV and publishing deals, restaurant chains and product endorsement — both in the UK and Australia, where he fronts nutrition adverts for a supermarket. 

Meanwhile it was revealed last weekend that fellow celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay had tried to help Oliver during his time of need.

The warring pair have long traded public insults – but Ramsay insisted it was all in good faith in the name of ‘banter’, and Oliver even added it was ‘good for PR’.

But they have since put aside their differences after Ramsay offered Oliver an olive branch.  

Some of the bailiffs had to use trolleys to load up cooking equipment and heavier items, pictured, taken from the eaterie

The restaurant, pictured, opened in 2014 and it took the team of bailiffs four hours to clear it of valuable assets

So far 22 of the 25 UK Jamie’s Italian restaurants have closed, including the flagship London branch, right, and around 1,300 jobs are at risk due to the administration. Pictured right is a lorry filled with wooden chairs and tables from the site

Overseas, five branches of the Australian arm of Jamie’s Italian were sold off last year, while another was put into administration. Pictured is a metal trolley inside the restaurant 

Some of Oliver’s cookbooks, pictured, could still be seen in the windows of the restaurant as bailiffs arrived today

This worker found an inventive way of removing two tables, pictured, by stacking them on top of each other and using a trolley to wheel them outside

The scooter was one of the items the workers loaded into the lorry very carefully, pictured, with three needed to make sure it was lifted safely 

The bailiffs are pictured here discussing the job this morning inside the closed restaurant in central London

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    Ramsay told the Mail On Sunday’s Event Magazine it was ‘appalling to see Jamie worry’ so he ‘reached out’ – but their collaboration was not enough to save the Oliver restaurants from collapse last week.

    Addressing his so-called feud with Oliver in Event Magazine, Mr Ramsay said their war of words came to an end last year.

    He said: I put a phone call in to Jamie last year, seeing the s*** he was going through. We met at the Ivy Club, got absolutely p***** together and I tried to give him as much advice as I could. It was just unfair to see him being taken down.’ 

    Speaking before the news broke of last week’s closures, Ramsay said: ‘I thought: “I’ve been through what he’s going through ten years ago, fighting to get my name clear and look after my business. 

    ‘It was appalling to see Jamie worry, so I reached out. I thought: this is our careers, it’s in our blood. We’re those generous, vulnerable, talented individuals who know that everywhere you turn, left or right, there’s someone trying to take advantage of you. 

    ‘So I said, “What can I do to help this ship stop sinking?” Our CEOs met and exchanged ideas.’ 

    Notices have been put up in the windows of the flagship restaurant, pictured, telling people to contact administrators KPMG with any questions

    The bar at the restaurant near Piccadilly Circus looked very different than normal today as bailiffs gathered around it to pile up valuable items

    A bailiff is pictured taking a chair and a highchair from the restaurant this morning as members of the public walked by

    Logistics firm Fit Out were at the restaurant for four hours this morning, while other locations around the country are also expected to be cleared imminently 

    The Italian-style Aperol Spritz-branded scooter was secured to the floor of the lorry with belts, pictured

    Members of the public came across the unusual site in central London this morning as they went about their daily lives

    Experts have blamed the collapse of the business on expensive overheads at ‘premium locations’.

    Which restaurants are closing amid the high street bloodbath? 

    Jamie Oliver’s chains are among the casualties of the bloodbath sweeping the British high street 

    Dining chains Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner revealed in March that their owner  plans to close a third of the brand’s sites.

    Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) announced that a total of 27 out of its 87 restaurants would close. It bought Giraffe from Tesco in 2016 and combined it with Ed’s Easy Diner after acquiring the chain that same year.

    Underlying losses of £1.6million that hit the combined entity were revealed in its most recently available annual accounts.

    Giraffe (pictured) is among the casualties of the bloodbath sweeping the British high street

    Last year, several casual dining brands closed sites amid rising costs and tougher competition.

    Prezzo, Byron, Carluccio’s, Gaucho and Gourmet Burger Kitchen all shut branches. 

    In November, creditors of Gourmet Burger Kitchen approved a plan to close 17 of the premium burger chain’s restaurants, putting around 250 jobs at risk.

    South Africa’s Famous Brands, which acquired GBK in 2016 for £120 million, has previously unveiled stinging losses at the burger chain.

    The firm said in October that it would take a pre-tax impairment charge of 874 million rand (£47.2 million) due to the brand’s sustained under-performance. Also in 2018, Prezzo announced that 94 of its 300 outlets will close.

    KPMG found the number of restaurants experiencing significant financial distress was 11,091 in March 2018, up 8 per cent on a year earlier. 

    Gareth Ogden, from chartered accountants Haysmacintyre, said: ‘Sky high rents, particularly at its premium sites, combined with soaring business rates have been at the heart of Jamie Oliver’s recent woes. 

    ‘The rescue plan put in place in 2017 appears to have now crashed on the rocks of over-supply in the casual dining market and consumer uncertainty. In a sector awash with excess supply, particularly in the Italian market, maintaining quality, reliability and point of difference is imperative for survival. 

    ‘Jamie’s Italian, the group’s largest brand, is perhaps guilty of over-expansion and has lost the passion and zeal of its founder which was its USP when originally brought to market.’

    Senior market analyst Fiona Cincotta from Cityindex, added: ‘The restaurant chain, which piggybacked on the fame of Naked Chef Jamie Oliver, has been struggling for years to keep the business model going in which the pasta dishes – most of Jamie’s Italian offering – were too expensive for mid-range dinning and not high end enough to compete in the more expensive end of the market. 

    ‘Higher rent, rising food prices, uncertainty over Brexit and competition from smaller, more nimble outfits, have been eroding the company’s earnings over the last few years.  

    ‘Although nobody in the company blamed Brexit for the situation it is telling that the Jamie Oliver franchise is alive and well abroad, operating 25 restaurants in other countries including Ireland. 

    ‘The demise doesn’t leave much to celebrate, only room for questions about how it could have been done better.’

    In a frank interview last year, Oliver described the struggle for ‘survival’ for high street restaurants as he outlined plans to bring his Jamie’s Italian brand back to life.

    ‘The world’s changed in the restaurant industry in the last year and a half,’ he said.

    ‘It’s like any other business on the high street, it’s just really, really tough. 

    ‘We’re in a changed time and obviously there’s lots of pressures even for good businesses.’

    Describing the pressure to adapt, he added: ‘It’s survival. 

    ‘I don’t know anyone in the restaurant industry that’s doing high fives at the moment, unless they’re a small neighbourhood restaurant and god bless if they are having a good time.’ 

    The collapse of Jamie’s Italian comes as another death knell for the British high street, with a host of once-popular restaurants and shops closing sites.  

    In March, Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) said it planned to close more than a third of its Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner outlets, while Carluccio’s, Prezzo, Strada and Gourmet Burger Kitchen closed branches in 2018. 

    Meanwhile Oliver has been welcomed back to Instagram by fans – a week after posting about the collapse of his restaurant empire. 

    The chef returned to social media with a photo showing a spread of asparagus that attracted over 31,000 likes and a stream of supportive messages. 

    Dozens of crates were needed for the job and were piled almost as high as the restaurant, right, before the workers went about their task. One was pictured putting his back into the effort by hauling two crates out of the eaterie

    The blackboards in the restaurant, pictured left, still had recipes for cocktails written on them this morning

    Some of the boxes of kitchen equipment were so heavy it took three or more bailiffs to shift them off site, pictured

    The workers came prepared with boxes and trolleys, pictured, so they could remove the larger and more valuable items from the restaurant and kitchen

    Wooden chairs decorated in with vividly-patterned cushions were stacked up outside the restaurant this morning

    The workers formed something of a production line as they shifted tables from the restaurant and into the lorry

    Jamie’s ‘incompetent bully’ brother-in-law behind his food empire: Executive was banned from the City for insider trading and had a PA in her 50s ‘type her own redundancy letter’ 

    By Sebastian Murphy-Bates for MailOnline 

    Mr Hunt (pictured with Jamie Oliver) was branded ‘testosterone central’ by a female who used to work with him 

    The man behind Jamie Oliver’s food empire is arrogant, plagued by failure and has a problem working with strong women, sources close to the celebrity chef said before his food group went into administration today.

    The celebrity cook’s brother-in-law, Paul Hunt, is said to have given a PA her own redundancy letter to type before she even knew she’d be out of a job.

    Married to Oliver’s sister Anna-Marie, he was appointed to run Jamie Oliver Ltd in 2014 and is still listed as a director at the failing brand.

    In the same year he became a director of the Jamie’s Italian chain and today it emerged than more than 1,000 of its restaurant staff are set to lose their jobs.

    Mr Hunt was one of five directors at Jamie’s Italian Ltd in its last available accounts, despite the brand losing £30million in that same year.

    The 2017 accounts revealed directors enjoyed an average of £140,000 in salaries and bonuses.

    But Mr Hunt has been described as a bully who made workers redundant on the spot one Christmas Eve and barked ‘tea, tea’ at a ‘lovely PA’ in her 50s when he wanted a drink.

    ‘Paul Hunt is an arrogant, incompetent failure,’ a source close to the TV chef told The Times in March last year. ‘He knows virtually nothing about restaurants and even less about publishing…the day he resigns the staff should have a big party.’

    Mr Hunt previously worked for LIFFE futures and options exchange and was fined £60,000 in 1999 for insider trading while at Refco Overseas – the London arm of a US futures broker. Hunt was banned from trading for a year.

    The source that branded Hunt arrogant also said he has a ‘problem’ working with strong women and that his presence left staff ‘desperate to leave’.

    She said that the PA he screamed at when he wanted tea found out she was losing her job when he told her type up a set of redundancies and she was on the list.

    Pictured, left to right: Paul Hunt, his wife Anne-Marie, Jamie’s wife Juliette Norton and, far right, Jamie Oliver 

    Morale at the company is said to have become disastrously low after Mr Hunt, 54, was chosen to head up the culinary enterprise and introduced cost-saving measures.

    A female executive who recently left the company described Hunt as ‘testosterone central’ and ‘a City boy from central casting’ with a mahogany suntan.

    And she said that he appeared pleased when she handed in her resignation. Another source described him simply as useless and questioned his rising pay amid his failures.

    One former employee said: ‘He’s always been more focused on cost cutting than quality. He’s not tried to re-brand or do anything different.’

    The former City trader (pictured with his wife) allegedly made staff redundant on Christmas Eve and screamed ‘tea tea’ at his PA

    But as his brand’s former workers raged at the alleged incompetency on display, the TV chef hit out at critics on Twitter.

    ‘For the last 14 years, Paul has been deemed as fit and proper to be the sole director of a Financial Conduct Authority-licensed company, before becoming CEO of Jamie Oliver Group in July last year,’ he said last year.

    He dismissed ‘nasty’ claims that his brother-in-law and CEO of his business was a ‘bully’ who was destroying his empire.

    ‘First, let me say that the story is nonsense and I absolutely refute the picture they paint of Paul and my business,’ he said.

    ‘I’ve known Paul for years both as a loyal brother-in-law and loving father as well as a strong and capable CEO who I charged with re-shaping the business.

    ‘He has radically transformed our business for the better it’s now more successful, vibrant and creative than ever and now we able to focus on doing the same in our UK restaurant business. I’m incredibly grateful for what’s been achieved in a fairly short time.’

    Some sacked staff said that they were told to leave the premises mid-shift and were given no notice.

    The Notting Hill branch of Recipease had Christmas Eve 2015 as its last day of trading.

    One member of staff said: ‘Everyone here feels let down, particularly those like me who have worked a long time for Jamie and put everything into this shop. Christmas is the worst time to lose your job. The management have been ruthless.’

    Source: Read Full Article