Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has clawed back £2.4m from the collapse of his Italian restaurant empire, company filings reveal, as suppliers to the chain are forced to swallow tens of millions of pounds worth of losses.
Documents published by Interpath as the administration process wraps up show that Mr Oliver’s holding company received a further £580,000 payment in the period between last November and this month. This takes the total which has been paid out to Jamie Oliver Holdings, a business majority owned by Mr Oliver, to £2.4m.
Interpath said it was a “significant shortfall” to the amount that had been owed to Mr Oliver, who spent £25m trying to save the Italian chain in 2019.
However, suppliers to the chain have borne the brunt of the losses. Jamie’s Italian had owed around £85m when it went bust, which included £21m in debts to a group of creditors including food producers and UK councils.
Jamie Oliver Holdings was classed as a secured creditor, unlike those other businesses, and so was guaranteed to receive part of the debts owed to it.
The unsecured creditors, which include the suppliers and councils, received just £520,000 of the £21m they were owed.
One of its suppliers, Direct Meats, previously described feeling “hugely let down by the businesses falling into administration.” Filings from last July, before Interpath had called for creditors to set out their requests, had suggested at least one food supplier was owed almost £800,000.
Jamie Oliver Group declined to comment.
The collapse of Jamie’s Italian came amid a downturn in the casual dining sector, with other companies including Gaucho, Byron and Gourmet Burger Kitchen having struggled.
Jamie Oliver’s Italian chain went through a painful restructuring in which it offloaded unprofitable sites, in an attempt to stay afloat. However, when it went under, almost 1,000 jobs were lost, with the closure of 22 of his 25 UK restaurants described by Mr Oliver as “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do”.
Mr Oliver said at the time: “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. I appreciate how difficult this is for everyone affected.”
The three remaining UK restaurants – in Gatwick airport – were bought by SSP out of administration.
Mr Oliver has since suggested he could look to revive his restaurant empire in the UK, telling the Radio Times last year: “I’m watching for now but I’ll definitely get back in the game.”
News that the administration process for Jamie’s Italian has now wrapped up comes weeks after Mr Oliver found himself at the center of a row over the cost of living. He claimed the Government was using the current squeeze on household income as an “excuse” to delay tackling obesity.
Earlier this month, Mr Oliver organized a protest outside Downing Street in which he lashed out at the Government’s decision to halt a ban on “buy-one-get-one-free” (BOGOF) offers for junk food.
Boris Johnson said of the move: “If people can save on their food bills with some offers then I think we have just got to be flexible while we continue to tackle obesity.”
Mr Oliver has argued that BOGOF offers do not help household budgets. “This particular mechanic makes people spend more of their income and waste more,” Mr Oliver said. “To use cost of living as an excuse is wrong, it’s completely unfair.”
Critics have, however, argued that many people rely on such deals to feed themselves, with figures from Kantar showing that more than a fifth of Britons are struggling to make ends meet. Some items have risen more than 20pc in price.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.