Jamie Oliver is to take another crack at building a mid-range restaurant chain just six months after most of the celebrity chef’s UK dining empire collapsed.
Two of his Jamie’s Italian outlets in south-east Asia – on Kuta beach in Bali and in Bangkok, Thailand – are to be converted to a new format called Jamie Oliver Kitchen, the latest concept to be launched by the chef and which will focus on all-day dining with dishes reflecting local cuisine.
An additional 19 openings are planned up until the end of 2020, to supplement the 70 restaurants across 27 markets that the Jamie Oliver Group currently operates, according to his company.
The move by Oliver comes after all but three of Jamie Oliver’s 25 UK restaurants closed in May, with the loss of 1,000 jobs, as much of the mid-market restaurant sector suffered in the so-called casual dining crunch.
More than 1,400 UK restaurants collapsed in the year since June 2018, according to research by the accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young, as customers shunned chains such as Byron, Strada and Gourmet Burger Kitchen, as well as the Oliver brands.
It emerged in September that Oliver had paid himself £5.2m last year, despite a dive in profits at his company as he pumped millions into his UK restaurant chain. The company includes the chef’s publishing business as well as the remaining restaurant chains including Jamie’s Italian, Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria, Jamie’s Deli.
The celebrity chef’s food and media empire increased sales to £43.5m in the year to December 2018, but pretax profits almost halved to £7.8m, largely because of a £9.8m one-off charge related to the restaurant business.
Speaking about the new openings, Oliver said: “Over the past 20 years, I have travelled around the world to discover exciting flavour combinations, picking up incredible influences along the way. The new restaurants will bring those inspirations to life and serve some of my absolute all-time favourites. Whether you want to grab a quick bite in a relaxed setting, have a proper sit-down meal with friends and family, or grab a drink at the bar, we have created a beautiful space for everyone to enjoy the food I truly love.”