Banks and one of Britain’s biggest food suppliers are poised to pursue Jamie Oliver over debts after the chef’s empire of restaurants collapsed.
It is understood that Oliver provided personal guarantees to lending giant HSBC and distributor Brakes after a previous restructuring, allowing them to claim against him personally for any unpaid bills.
Administrators were called in as Oliver’s portfolio of restaurants failed, costing 1,000 jobs and leaving HSBC tens of millions of pounds out of pocket. A further 300 jobs are at risk.
Mr Oliver said he was “deeply saddened”, but insisted his restaurants had “positively disrupted” mid-market dining.
The administration comes two years after his business went through a painful restructuring to offload unprofitable sites. All but three sites have now closed, while sites at Gatwick will stay open while KPMG explores options.
KPMG partner Will Wright said: “The business is in administration. All but the Gatwick airport restaurants have closed.” The 1,000 staff made redundant will be paid until Tuesday.
The TV chef provided £4m of funding to his restaurant chain earlier this year. The lending is understood to enjoy “super senior” status, meaning it will be repaid before HSBC from any proceeds salvaged by KPMG. HSBC is understood to be owed £37m.
Oliver said: “We launched Jamie’s Italian in 2008 with the intention of positively disrupting mid-market dining, with great value and much higher-quality ingredients, best-in-class animal welfare standards and an amazing team who shared my passion for great food and service. And we did exactly that.”
A spokesman for Jamie Oliver declined to comment on the personal guarantees. HSBC and Brakes parent company Sysco Corporation did not respond to a request for comment.
Fears had been raised when Alix Partners, which ran a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in 2017, was hired earlier this year to seek an “investment partner”.
With the company clearing a key hurdle, the quarterly rent roll, in March hopes were raised that Mr Oliver’s chains – which also include Barbecoa and Fifteen London – could secure fresh funding. Specialists from accountancy firm BDO were also hired to assist Alix in preparing the company’s finances and it is understood a potential deal was at an advanced stage before administrators were called in.