A leading food wholesaler is refusing to comment on claims it had personal guarantees from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to supply his restaurant chain. "The directors at Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group have worked tirelessly to stabilise the business against a backdrop of rising costs and brittle consumer confidence", added Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator.
According to a CNN Business report, Oliver, who is also an ardent anti-junk food campaigner, declared on May 23 that he is placing his restaurant business under bankruptcy protection, with KPMG having been appointed as the administrator of the bankruptcy proceedings. "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 over the years".
Following the shock closure of Jamie's Italian it was revealed the George Street restaurant had an annual business tax bill of £280,500.
"I appreciate how hard this is for everyone affected", he said. "Great and passionate people with an inherent understanding of hospitality and what Jamie Oliver's group stood for - these hospitality heroes will always be welcome at our restaurants". "And we did exactly that".
In total, 25 restaurants are affected by the move, putting 1,300 jobs at risk.
The group had been seeking buyers in recent months after Oliver chose to sell up amid heavy competition in the casual dining market that has already seen chains such as Carluccio's, Byron Burger and Gourmet Burger Kitchen close outlets.
Both Jamie's Italian restaurants which are set to remain, and Jamie Oliver's Diner at Gatwick Airport, will continue to trade in the short-term while the joint administrators explore options for the site.
In 2015, Oliver closed the last branch of Recipease, his chain of cookery shops, and his British themed Union Jacks restaurants also closed two years later. Nearly 90% of Oliver's restaurants in the United Kingdom are now closed.
Hallmark said yesterday in a statement that it was "saddened" to hear about the overnight appointment of administrators to his United Kingdom restaurant arm but "the problems are isolated to the United Kingdom business".
Oliver is known for his Naked Chef books, TV shows and his campaign for healthier school meals. Oliver also took to Twitter on May 21 on the developments.