Singapore — Even though the restaurant empire of famed UK chef Jamie Oliver went into bankruptcy protection earlier this week, the businesses that carry his name and branding in Singapore are still going strong.
The celebrity chef has two Jamie’s Italian outlets in the country, one at Forum The Shopping Mall and the other at VivoCity.
Integrated Food Concepts, which owns and operates the Jamie’s Italian restaurants in Singapore released a statement on Wednesday, May 22, in the wake of the news concerning Mr Oliver’s restaurant chain.
“Jamie’s Italian VivoCity and Forum are locally owned and operated under a franchise agreement with Jamie’s Italian International.
As such, both Singapore-based outlets remain unaffected by this recent announcement.”
The restaurants that will be closing in the UK are under the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group.
The first Jamie’s Italian outlet opened in the UK in 2008. In Singapore, the VivoCity outlet opened in 2013, and the one at Forum The Shopping Mall, two years later.
The New Paper reports that when asked concerning the future of Jamie’s Italian outlets in the country, the head of research for Singapore and South-east Asia at real estate agency CBRE, Desmond Sim, said, “They do not necessarily have to close, as long as quality is maintained.
In fact, maybe they can veer away from franchise restrictions and reinvent themselves.”
The managing director of food and beverage consultancy Poulose Associates, Francis Poulose, believes that the closing down of the franchises would not necessarily affect the celebrity chef.
”It would affect the brand image, but it won’t affect Jamie Oliver himself or his shows,” he said.
In a tweet on May 21, Tuesday, Mr Oliver said he was “devastated” by the closures, which will, after all, affect 1,000 jobs in the UK.
“I’m devastated that our much-loved UK restaurants have gone into administration. 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. Jamie Oliver”
The affected restaurants in the UK include Jamie Oliver’s Diner at Gatwick Airport, steakhouse chain Barbacoa, and Fifteen London, which Mr Oliver established in 2002 for the specific purpose of training youths who are unemployed.
The brand now has international auditing firm KPMG as its appointed administrator. According to KPMG, 22 out of the group’s 25 restaurants are now shuttered, resulting in a loss of around 1,000 jobs.
In a statement, the auditing firm said, “Both Jamie’s Italian restaurants and Jamie Oliver’s Diner at Gatwick Airport will continue to trade in the short term while the joint administrators explore options for the site.”
International restaurants including Jamie’s Pizzeria and Jamie’s Deli, as well as Jamie’s Italian, will remain open and operational.
Although Mr Oliver has invested heavily into his restaurants in the face of strong competition from other establishments offering fresh and mid-priced fare, he said that his businesses were hard hit by “a perfect storm” of higher rents, salaries, food costs, and the impact of Brexit and fluctuating shopping habits in an interview with the Financial Times in 2018.
According to KPMG partner Will Wright, “The current trading environment for companies across the casual dining sector is as tough as I’ve ever seen.”
Mr Oliver, age 43, is not only a chef but a writer and television personality. He is also well known for his advocacy of fighting junk food and bringing healthy food to public schools in the UK as well as the United States.
He first rose to prominence in 1999 on the BBC show “Naked Chef. In June 2003, Mr Oliver became a Member of the Order of the British Empire. / TISG