Jamie Oliver cites ‘unethical competition’ as key factor in branch closures earlier this year

Celebrity chef and TV personality Jamie Oliver has spoken out again on the factors that led to the closure of a handful of Jamie’s Italian branches earlier this year, citing unethical competition as the real reason behind the restructuring. 

The TV chef hit the headlines back in January when he closed half a dozen restaurants from his Jamie’s Italian group, blaming Brexit cost pressures and tough trading for the move.

Now, in an interview with the Radio Times, the ‘Naked Chef’ author said that factors such as steep rents and food costs, as well as Brexit, weren’t the only things to have played a part in the decision to close seven venues over the course of 2017.

He told the magazine that reports of the demise of Jamie’s Italian following the six branch closures and, more recently, £10m refinancing deal were wide of the mark.

“I’ve had six closures. Marks and Spencer have had 200, but they put me on the front page with Cheryl Cole. It’s kind of b******s,” he said.

He says Brexit, food costs and unsustainable rents have all played a part in the closures, but the real reason has been unethical competition.

“I can’t compromise my procurement, it’s like a religion for me,” he told the Radio Times. “I would rather close all my restaurants than sell you intensively reared chicken. All those lovely restaurants that look the same as mine, some of the poshest new restaurants that are flying at the moment, they cook and burn-mark their steaks off-site, putting them in a little bit of plastic and regenerating them [in the restaurant] like airplane food. We’re the ones that are selling free-range chicken. Five or six other brands sell minimum standard, intensively reared, never-seen-a-bit-of-daylight chicken.”

The wide-ranging interview with Mr Oliver is contained in the Christmas edition of the famous TV guide and can be read in full HERE.

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