City centre Italian restaurant ceases trading as celeb chef's empire crumbles

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's Manchester restaurant has closed following the collapse of his restaurant chain.

The Italian on King Street - located in the iconic Midland Bank Building - ceased trading today as Oliver's restaurant group (including 23 Jamie's Italian restaurants, plus Fifteen and Barbecoa) fell into administration.

Up to 1,300 jobs are reportedly at risk across the UK, around 80 in Manchester, as administrators KPMG move in to manage the insolvency process.

"I am deeply saddened by this outcome"

The news comes two years after the group narrowly avoided collapse, closing half a dozen unprofitable restaurants in 2017 during a company restructure. Later that year the chef reportedly put £3m of his own money in to shore up the business.

Taking to Twitter, the 'Naked Chef' said: 'I’m devastated that our much-loved UK restaurants have gone into administration. I am deeply saddened by this outcome and would like to thank all of the people who have put their hearts and souls into this business over the years.'

2018 08 22 Jamie Oliver Book Signing
Jamie Oliver signing books in his Manchester restaurant last year

In an email addressed to staff, Oliver said they had "no choice" but to put the company into administration after he had "explored every possible avenue available and exhausted all options over the past months to try and save this business".

He also said: "Once it became clear that an administration was our only option, I personally made sure that I was able to pay everyone’s salary to date, so none of you are left out of pocket for the great work you’ve done."

Jamies Italian Midland Bank
Jamie's Italian opened in the old Midland Bank Building in 2012

Speaking to Confidential last year about his personal success, Oliver said:

"My timing was perfect, because in the nineties Britain was changing. It was like, ‘if that little shite can do it, why can’t you? You’re like thirty years older than him and you ain’t pulled your finger out for months.’ The Naked Chef was born through women going to work and men around Britain looking at their missus after a twelve hour day going ‘what’s for dinner?’ And they weren’t having it. So I saw my audience change because as soon as men started to see you not as a threat, but as an ally, then cooking wasn’t actually for girls, cooking gets you girls."

The collapse of Oliver's restaurant empire is another casualty of the UK casual dining squeeze, as the market comes to terms with higher rates, rents and wage bills, increasing food prices and competition, and Brexit-fuelled instability.

More to follow...