Jamie Oliver restaurants to expand abroad despite UK collapse

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Jamie's Italian is one of the brands that will survive internationally. Photo: Mike Kemp/In Pictures/Getty Images

Jamie Oliver’s restaurant empire will expand abroad in 2020 despite the collapse of the celebrity chef’s UK-based business earlier this year.

The Jamie Oliver Group, which is separate from the UK-based group that collapsed in May, said that international franchisees plan to open 21 new Jamie Oliver-branded restaurants by the end of next year.

The news comes after the group announced that it would launch a new mid-range restaurant chain, known as Jamie Oliver Kitchen.

The chain will focus on all-day dining and will offer dishes that reflect the local cuisine. Two Jamie’s Italian outlets, one in Bali and the other in Bangkok, will be converted into Jamie Oliver Kitchen restaurants.

A further 19 restaurants will be opened by the end of 2020, meaning that the international group will have more than 90 restaurants in more than 25 markets around the world.

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These restaurants are generally run by franchisees, who pay to operate restaurants under the Jamie Oliver brand.

The UK-based Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group collapsed into administration in May, forcing the loss of 1,000 jobs and the closure of all but three of his restaurants in the country.

Oliver said he was “devastated” and “saddened” by what had happened.

Trouble had been brewing for the UK group for some time, and the chef had been forced to inject millions of his own money to save it from bankruptcy.

The chain had repeatedly blamed the challenges facing the casual dining sector — such as high rents, business rates, and high street woes — and had even pointed to the “pressures and unknowns” of Brexit.

In August, he told a magazine that his empire would not have collapsed if it had been comprised of “posh” restaurants, arguing that the UK was “very good at nourishing the rich.”

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“If I’d have spent 13 years opening posh restaurants, I could assure you they’d all be open today,” he said.

In a statement about the new international openings, Oliver said: “Over the past 20 years, I have travelled around the world to discover exciting flavour combinations, picking up incredible influences along the way.

“The new restaurants will bring those inspirations to life and serve some of my absolute all-time favourites.”