The closure of Jamie Oliver's chain restaurants has seen around 1,000 people lose their jobs.
The celebrity chef said he was "devastated" to announce that his restaurant group, which includes his Jamie's Italian chain Barbecoa as well as Fifteen, has gone into administration, costing many jobs in the process. As reported by BBC News, 22 of the restaurants have already closed, with notices being posted on the windows of those branches.
"I'm devastated that our much-loved U.K. restaurants have gone into administration," he tweeted. "I appreciate how difficult this is for everyone affected."
The United union said the move was a "devastating blow for the chain's hardworking and loyal workforce" and asked for reassurance that all staff will be "protected and paid all the money they're owed, including wages, holiday and redundancy." They added that high street restaurants, who have expanded massively in the past few years, have been hurt by the current economic landscape in the U.K. and risky boardroom decisions ultimately impact workers in both the restaurants and the supply chain.
According to Reuters, the sudden move took employees by surprise, with one London worker saying he learned that he had lost his job just as he was getting ready to start his shift.
"I didn't believe it at first. I really, really enjoy serving people, but it's a strange time at the moment, and all the casual dining and high street restaurants are in decline," Alin Ciocan, 28, said.Oliver had injected £4 million (around $5 million) of his own cash into the restaurant group this year, but he did not manage to save all 25 branches. The group has now appointed KPMG as administrators, who decided to keep two restaurants at Gatwick Airport open for the time being. Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall at Watergate Bay, in southern England, will also remain open as will all international branches of Jamie's Italian, Jamie's Pizzeria, and Jamie's Deli.
Aside from the $5 million in funds provided by Oliver, the administrators claimed they had recently "undertaken a process to secure additional investment into the business," but the lack of suitable investment and the difficult trading environment had forced them to make the decision to close down the restaurants. As per Reuters, the Jamie Oliver group is yet another victim of the complicated trading landscape for Britain's high street businesses, with many other popular restaurants closing in part due to a rise in the use of takeaway apps.
According to the BBC, the famous chef said in a statement that he was thankful to all the customers who had supported the business over the years, and that he was glad he achieved his goal to provide high-quality food that respected animal welfare standards alongside "an amazing team who shared my passion for great food and service."Jamie Oliver is known not only for his TV cooking shows and successful cookbooks but also for popularizing a healthy food lifestyle and for campaigning for healthier meals in schools across the U.K.