Jamie Oliver has said he is not planning to shut any more restaurants following the decision to axe six “problem sites” from his portfolio at the start of this year.
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.
It was revealed at the time that its restaurants needed to be serving an average of 3,000 covers a week, but sites in Aberdeen, Exeter, Cheltenham, Richmond, Tunbridge Wells and Ludgate Hill were deemed to be surplus to requirements.
But Mr Oliver has vowed that there are no more closures on the agenda and said that he has actually opened two more restaurants since.
In a newspaper interview for his new recipe book published this morning, Mr Oliver gave a firm ‘no’ when asked if he would be shutting any more of his restaurants.
He said: “We grew very fast and I closed six as they were problem sites taking up senior management’s time and effort. You’ve got to be practical and if it’s not meant to be, shut it down and try again. We opened two more. The restaurants are all profitable. I’m positive about the industry but times are challenging.”
More than 120 staff were affected by the closures this year, although at the time the group said it would look to place them in other parts of its portfolio.
Asked if he is concerned about where he will get staff after Brexit, Mr Oliver said: “It’s not just staff, it’s ingredients and the impact on things a couple of steps removed. I’m not whinging about it but I was a Remainer as I think it would be better for Britain. We are where we are and if you don’t think it’s going to get tougher in the next three years then you’re nuts.”
There are more than 40 Jamie’s Italians in the UK and the company has previously stated that it plans to roll out another 20 and develop its Australian restaurants, which it bought out of receivership last year.
Meanwhile, Mr Oliver was also asked what was happening with his “feud” with fellow TV chef Gordon Ramsay.
He replied: “There isn’t a feud. Generally he’s always abusing me. He did an ITV chat show a few months ago and all he did was talk about me all night but I don’t have a feud with him. I have admiration for him. He’s smashed America like no one else. He’s been taking the p*** out of me for so long I don’t even hear it anymore. It’s like when you go to the country and smell a cow pat and after two minutes you don’t smell it anymore.”