‘I can’t put the other side of the business at risk,’ says chef
Jamie Oliver says he has “no more money” to invest in Jamie’s Italian after pumping millions of pounds from his own savings to bail out the restaurant chain.
The celebrity chef admitted he would not have the personal funds to rescue the business if it got into further difficulties.
Oliver put almost £13m of his own money into Jamie’s Italian earlier this year to help keep 25 restaurants open, after debts of £71.5m forced the chain to close 12 outlets.
“I haven’t got any more [money to invest],” he told The Mail on Sunday.
“There’s a point where I can’t put the other side of the business at risk as well and the people who work there.”
The TV cook insisted the restaurant business was “off life-support” following its financial problems.
“We’re getting on top of it and I think we’ve learned lots of lessons … I think I’ll be a better boss and restaurateur in the future because of it.”
More than 600 workers lost their jobs in January when Jamie’s Italian underwent a major restructuring.
“We had simply run out of cash,” he told the Financial Times in August.
“And we hadn’t expected it. That is just not normal, in any business. You have quarterly meetings. You do board meetings. People supposed to manage that stuff should manage that stuff.”
In his latest interview, Mr Oliver conceded he had been through a tough time. “The past 18 months have been challenging.”
The 43-year-old faced accusations of cultural appropriation in August after launching a brand of “jerk rice”.
And in September the chef tackled a home intruder when his family home in north London was burgled.
Last month, Jamie’s Italian posted accounts showing it lost £20m in 2017. The dreadful year followed a £700,000 profit in 2016.
Yet Mr Oliver’s media business, including his TV shows and cookery books, continues to thrive. The latest figures show revenues rose to £32m last year, while underlying profits jumped 45 per cent to £8m.
Paul Hunt, chief executive of Jamie Oliver Group and the chef’s brother-in-law, said the media empire was “fundamental to our ability to support the restaurant business and ensure its continuity.
“With a reshaped restaurant estate, a new management team and a focused investment plan backed by HSBC, we are making steady headway in a challenging market.”