Jamie Oliver is to close six of his Jamie’s Italian restaurants, his company blaming a “tough market” along with “post-Brexit pressures and unknowns” for the move. Is this one of the first examples of 2017 of under-performing businesses reaching for the Brexit ‘get out of jail free’ card?
The closures are at Ludgate Hill in central London, Aberdeen, Exeter, Cheltenham, Richmond and Tunbridge Wells. The company said it hopes to find alternative jobs for 120 staff affected.
There are currently 46 branches in the UK and another 36 abroad, some of them run by partners. A further 22 are planned to open internationally this year, although expansion in this country is restricted to Oliver’s US-style barbecue brand Barbecoa, with a high-profile London opening on Piccadilly scheduled for next month.
Simon Blagden, chief executive of the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, said Jamie’s Italian branches needed to serve 3,000 covers a week to be sustainable, but “our overall business is in very good shape”.
The Jamie’s Italian chain has perennially received a damning report in the Harden’s Survey, and is widely perceived by reporters as a case-study in celeb spin-offs. This year’s 2017 survey suggests you go “only if you are desperate” and that “it’s overly expensive for what’s now very mediocre”.