Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver serves time on restaurants

London (AFP) –


British celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver said Tuesday that he was "devastated" to announce that his restaurant group had collapsed, with the loss of 1,000 jobs.

The group, which comprises 25 restaurants across Britain and includes the chains Jamie's Italian and Barbecoa steakhouse, has appointed administrators KPMG.

"I'm devastated that our much-loved UK restaurants have gone into administration," Oliver tweeted.

Oliver's company has officially fallen into administration -- the process whereby a troubled company calls in outside expertise to try and minimise job losses.

"Following their appointment, all but three of the group's 25 eateries have closed," KPMG said in a statement.

"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.

"Regrettably, these closures will result in approximately 1,000 redundancies."

The company's international division meanwhile remains unaffected by the move and continues to trade as normal.

"The current trading environment for companies across the casual dining sector is as tough as I've ever seen," added Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, in the statement.

"The directors at Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group have worked tirelessly to stabilise the business against a backdrop of rising costs and brittle consumer confidence.

"However, after a sales process which sought to bring new investment into the business proved unsuccessful, the team took the incredibly difficult decision to appoint administrators."

- 'Dark day' -

Oliver expressed "deep" sadness at the move, which also comes amid fierce competition in the sector in Britain.

"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," he added in a separate statement.

"I appreciate how difficult this is for everyone affected."

The news follows a string of closures at the group's restaurants over the last two years, including 12 of its 37 Jamie's Italian outlets in 2018.

Louisa Bull, national officer at trade union Unite, said that the high street was suffering "dark" times from ongoing economic turmoil in Britain, adding that the group had also expanded too fast.

"This is another dark day for the UK high street, following hard on the heels of the collapse of (British cafe chain) Patisserie Valerie early this year," Bull remarked in a statement.

"Restaurants are not being helped by the current economic uncertainty, although those businesses like Jamie Oliver's that dashed for expansion in recent years seem particularly precarious.

"As ever, it is the workers at the restaurant and in the supply chain who bear the heavy cost of boardroom decisions."