Key­stone chop

Firm linked to chef goes bust

The Dominion Post - - Front Page - COL­LETTE DEVLIN

The com­pany be­hind a failed bid to open New Zealand’s first Jamie Oliver restau­rant has been placed in re­ceiver­ship, ow­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars to its Welling­ton land­lord.

Last month it was con­firmed that Key­stone Hos­pi­tal­ity Group, the Aus­tralian operator of Jamie’s Ital­ian restau­rants, was aban­don­ing plans to open its first New Zealand restau­rant in Welling­ton’s CBD.

The Ital­ian restau­rant was set to move into the ground floor and base­ment of the newly re­fur­bished Pub­lic Trust build­ing on Lambton Quay, which is owned by prop­erty de­vel­oper and en­gi­neer Mau­rice Clark.

Key­stone, which was placed in re­ceiver­ship af­ter fail­ing to rene­go­ti­ate lend­ing ar­range­ments with its fi­nanciers KKR and Olym­pus Cap­i­tal, had not paid its Welling­ton bills, Clark said.

The com­pany had paid for an ar­chi­tect, re­source con­sent for the fitout and a de­posit on the lease but had re­neged on the rent, which was hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars, he said.

‘‘I was hold­ing back [from leasing] be­cause they told me they would get a sub-fran­chise.’’

Clark was now look­ing for a new restau­rant ten­ant for the build­ing.

The re­ceivers, Fer­rier Hodg­son’s Mor­gan Kelly and Ryan Ea­gle, told The Aus­tralian Fi­nan­cial Re­view that the venues will now be sold off but in the mean­time Key­stone would con­tinue to trade as usual.

Key­stone, owned by a group of pri­vate Syd­ney in­vestors, has a num­ber of restau­rants in Aus­tralia in­clud­ing Jamie’s Ital­ian Syd­ney, Jamie’s Ital­ian Perth, Jamie’s Ital­ian Can­berra, Jamie’s Ital­ian Bris­bane, Jamie’s Ital­ian Ade­laide and Jamie’s Ital­ian Trattoria.

First Re­tail Group man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Chris Wilkin­son said the fi­nan­cial issues ex­plained more about why the com­pany had failed to es­tab­lish a busi­ness here.

Aban­don­ing a New Zealand the project was not a re­flec­tion on Welling­ton and more to do with chal­leng­ing cash­flow, he said.

‘‘Key­stone had a ma­jor stake­hold­ing in the Syd­ney food and bev­er­age scene which was par­tic­u­larly im­pacted by the ‘one-way­door’ pol­icy adopted across the [Syd­ney] CBD,’’ he said.

‘‘Many in the in­dus­try felt had a strong po­lit­i­cal lean­ing.’’ it

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is no longer open­ing a restau­rant in Welling­ton af­ter its operator was placed in re­ceiver­ship.

PHOTO: JOHN NI­CHOL­SON/FAIR­FAX NZ

Welling­ton’s Pub­lic Trust build­ing.

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