Scottish Daily Mail

Jamie’s Italian chain on brink with £60m debt

- By Matt Oliver City Correspond­ent

AN UPMARKET bakery and a League Two football club are among those owed more than £60million by Jamie Oliver’s struggling Italian restaurant chain.

In a bid to avoid a complete collapse, the celebrity chef has agreed to close 12 of his 25 Jamie’s Italian restaurant­s – with the loss of 450 jobs – and has been forced to beg landlords of his other sites for a reduction in rent to help prop up the balance sheet.

The agreement struck with creditors – known as a company voluntary arrangemen­t – comes after advisers were called in to help as debts piled up and it struggled to remain afloat. It means Jamie’s Italian will continue trading, suppliers will get paid and 1,800 staff jobs are safe.

The company, which the 42-year-old founded in 2008 but has not been as successful as hoped, owes £38million to banks in overdrafts and loans, £9million to his other companies and £14million to suppliers, the taxman and employees.

Its creditors include councils, estate agents and scores of small businesses. For example £133,000 was owed to Balthazar Bakery, a London firm which makes artisan bread, another £263,000 to Daily Fish Supplies, and £1.9million to Bicester food supplier Fresh Direct. It owes a further £2,500 to Heavenly Cakes in Stevenage, Hertfordsh­ire, and £1,840 to Crawley Town Football Club, in West Sussex.

The company owes tens of thousands of pounds to Edinburgh, Islington, Oxford, Leeds and Exeter councils, among others.

A spokesman for Jamie’s Italian said last night: ‘Following a 97 per cent positive creditor vote, the Jamie’s Italian business can now move forward with the restructur­ing plan, whereby we can protect the future employment of 1,800 staff across 25 restaurant­s and head office.

‘We can continue with payments to our suppliers and move into new relationsh­ips and arrangemen­ts with all of our landlords.’

The trouble at Jamie’s Italian comes after other business interests set up by Mr Oliver have also felt the heat. He was forced to close his unsuccessf­ul Recipease cooking shop chain, as well as his Union Jacks pizza restaurant­s.

The television star, who has also penned a number of bestsellin­g cookbooks, is understood to have put £3million of his own fortune into the business and his other firms have loaned £6.5million. Together with his wife Jools, he is estimated to be worth £150million.

‘We can protect 1,800 staff’

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