As Southampton diners have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of the top TV chef’s latest restaurant in Westquay, 12 branches of the well-known Jamie’s Italian chain have closed across the country.
The last empty unit at the south extension of Westquay bears signs declaring that Jamie Oliver’s restaurant will be “coming soon”. This is despite those notices first appearing around a year ago.
Jobs at risk
Jamie Oliver has 25 restaurants across the UK, with 28 branches overseas, in locations such as Hong Kong, Dubai and Sydney, Australia.
Over 200 jobs nationwide are said to be at risk due to Jamie’s Italian restructuring plans, put in motion by the celebrity chef and pushed through by the chain’s creditors.
Jamie’s Italian staff are currently undergoing a consultation period, although the company has stated it will try and place some of the staff affected by closures into other areas of Jamie Oliver’s restaurant empire.
Back in Southampton’s Westquay, there have been no signs of any commercial catering supplies, such as from https://www.247cateringsupplies.co.uk/, having been delivered to the premises.
The reasons behind the restructure
The closure of the 12 restaurants is a measure of the Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) that the company has agreed to with its creditors. A CVA allows a limited company to continue trading, provided that their creditors agree.
The CVA has allowed the Jamie’s Italian chain to agree rent reductions on its remaining estate, as well as to close unprofitable branches of the chain.
Last year, Jamie Oliver blamed the combination of tough trading and rising Brexit pressures and costs as the reason for closing six of his restaurants.
The mid-market restaurant trade, consisting of several other high-street restaurant chains, has complained of lower footfall and increased staff costs. The collapse of the pound against the euro has added another sting, as the price of buying ingredients from European countries such as Italy has risen.
95% of Jamie’s Italian creditors, such as landlords, voted to approve the deal in February 2018. Chain bosses were pleased with the positive support and approval from their creditors to reshape and restructure the Jamie’s Italian restaurants.
The chain has a strong brand, and is said to be focused on continuing to deliver the taste, experience and levels of service that its loyal customers expect.