Jamie Oliver’s Dubai restaurant 'unaffected' by UK collapse

Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group was placed under administration on Tuesday, placing 1,300 jobs at risk

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's restaurant chain collapsed on Tuesday, putting 1,300 jobs at risk. Sam Ruttyn / Newspix/ Getty Images
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Jamie Oliver’s franchised pizza restaurant in Dubai will continue operating as normal despite the collapse of the British chef’s restaurant chain in the UK on Tuesday, according to administrators at accountancy firm KPMG.

“The international restaurants trading as Jamie’s Italian, Jamie’s Pizzeria and Jamie’s Deli will continue to trade as normal and are not affected by the administration of the UK restaurant business,” a statement from the administrators said.

Jamie's Pizzeria in Jumeirah Lakes Towers opened in 2018 as a franchise licensed by UAE retail company Apparel Group. There are Jamie Oliver franchises across Europe and Asia, which will all continue trading as normal.

On Monday, Will Wright and Mark Orton from KPMG in London were appointed joint administrators to the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group and its subsidiaries Jamie’s Italian, Jamie’s Italian Holdings, One New Change and Fifteen Restaurant.

Twenty two of the 25 restaurants have now closed, putting 1,300 jobs at risk, even after the chef ploughed £12.7 million (Dh59.1m) of his own money into the struggling business in 2017.

The group has struggled to pay down a reported £71.5m in debts amid a soft retail market in the UK in recent years, because of an economic slowdown and Brexit uncertainty.

The 22 shut restaurants are all under the Jamie’s Italian brand, while Jamie Oliver’s Diner at Gatwick Airport, Barbecoa and Fifteen London will continue to trade in the short term while the administrators “explore options for the sites”, they said.

“The group had recently undertaken a process to secure additional investment into the business and, since the beginning of this year, Jamie Oliver has made available additional funds of £4m to support the fund-raising,” the statement said.

“However, with no suitable investment forthcoming and in light of the very difficult current trading environment, the directors resolved to appoint administrators. Regrettably, these closures will results in approximately 1,000 redundancies.”

Jamie Oliver's business, Jamie Oliver Holdings, has made arrangements to ensure all restaurant staff salaries will be paid up to the date of the administrators' appointment.

The current trading environment for companies across the casual dining sector “is as tough as I’ve ever seen”, KPMG’s Mr Wright said. “The directors at Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group have worked tirelessly to stabilise the business against a backdrop of rising costs and brittle consumer confidence.”

Other Jamie Oliver restaurants have failed to take off in the emirate. A branch of Jamie's Italian at Dubai's Jumeirah Beach Hotel closed in 2017, after the closure of two other outlets, at Dubai Festival City and Jumeirah Beach Residence. There are no Jamie Oliver restaurants in other emirates.