Jamie Oliver buys back his Australian restaurant business

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 11:  Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver attends a media conference to mark his arrival in Australia, at the Park Hyatt Hotel on September 11, 2006 in Sydney, Australia. Jamie returns to Australia for the first time in five years for a 10 day visit which will see him perform his new live shows in Sydney and Melbourne, launch Network Ten?s program 'Jamie?s Kitchen Australia' and open the fourth Fifteen Restaurant with best mate Tobie Puttock in Melbourne.  (Photo by Patrick Riviere/Getty Images)

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is set to buy back his Jamie’s Italian restaurants business in Australia.

The TV star was confirmed as the “preferred bidder” for the six restaurants this morning after the Keystone Group, which ran the franchise Down Under, went into receivership earlier this year.

Receiver Morgan Kelly said it was an “ideal outcome” for the Australian Jamie’s Italian franchises to return to parent group ownership and operation.

“Jamie Oliver taking control over the restaurants is an exciting outcome for the restaurant staff and patrons. The Australian Jamie’s Italian franchises can now go from strength to strength under the direct management of the Jamie Oliver Group,” Mr Kelly said.

Oliver himself said that the Australian franchise contained some of the best performing Jamie’s Italian restaurants worldwide and that the sites were only put up for sale when the franchise partner suffered financial difficulties.

He said it was in no way a reflection on the performance or success of the restaurants.

“The best news that could come out of the situation I’ve been placed in is for me to buy back the Jamie’s Italian franchise. I believe in it and our Australian teams 100%,” he said. “This will be a really exciting moment for me personally, and I know the guys will be ecstatic to be back in-house. It will allow us to invest even more time and money in people and restaurants, celebrate great Aussie produce and be even more creative.”

Bringing Jamie’s Italian in-house will also facilitate working more effectively across the other three pillars of the Jamie Oliver Group in Australia (Media, Licensing and Foundation), Mr Oliver said.

Jamie’s Italian operates 42 restaurants in the UK and 25 internationally.

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