Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s British restaurant chain collapses, putting 1,300 jobs at risk

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s British restaurant chain filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday, leaving 1,300 jobs at risk.  (AP)

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s British restaurant chain filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday, putting 1,300 jobs at risk.

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Oliver, 43, tweeted Tuesday that he was “devastated” by the news.

“I’m devastated that our much-loved UK restaurants have gone into administration,” he wrote. “I am deeply saddened by this outcome and would like to thank all of the people who have put their hearts and souls into this business over the years.”

The insolvency put 1,300 jobs at risk and reignited worries about local retail and food outlets in Britain, which are struggling to attract customers much like downtowns in the United States.

KPMG will oversee the process that affects some 25 restaurants, including Jamie’s Italian chain and steak house Barbecoa. Overseas branches of Jamie’s Italian are not affected, nor is Fifteen Cornwall, which operates as a franchise. 23 of the restaurants are from Jamie’s Italian chain, the BBC reported.

Oliver said in a statement that Jamie’s Italian was launched in 2008 “with the intention of positively disrupting mid-market dining in the UK High Street” with better quality ingredients, better service and good value.

However, the launch of the restaurants came in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis which saw rising food prices, increasing rents and competition.

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The company had been in trouble for at least two years.

Last year it closed 12 of its 37 sites in Britain. In 2017, the rest of his Union Jacks restaurants shuttered and his magazine, Jamie, was shut down after almost 10 years of publication. Oliver put more than $3.8 million of his own money into his businesses in December 2017, according to the BBC.

Oliver is known for his “Naked Chef” cookbook and his “The Naked Chef” television program. His YouTube channel has more than 4.3 million subscribers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.