Recently press reports have declared the 42-year-old’s imminent retirement and predicted collapse for his Jamie’s Italian restaurant chain. But in a recent Radio Times interview, the superstar chef explains how bad press, public feuds, and political battles have taken their toll and confirmed his imminent will to pack his bags and stop. "Why don’t I retire? Why don’t I take my kids to school every single day? You know: why, why, why, why?”, he asks.
In 2014, he closed three out of four of his Union Jacks restaurants; the final branch shut up shop in March 2017. Six Jamie’s Italian restaurants closed down in January 2017, with the company blaming a “tough” market and uncertainties following Brexit. Only last month, the chef shut down a further 12 branches, leading to the loss of around 450 jobs.
He says the recent reports of the demise of Jamie’s Italian after closing six branches and requiring a £10 million refinancing deal are wide of the mark. “I’ve had six closures. Marks and Spencer have had 200, but they put me on the front page with Cheryl Cole. It’s kind of b******s.” He says Brexit, food costs and unsustainable rents have all played a part in the closures, but the real reason has been unethical competition. “I can’t compromise my procurement, it’s like a religion for me,” he says to Radio Times. “I would rather close all my restaurants than sell you intensively reared chicken.
It's not only about Jamie
The burger chain Byron is to close up to 20 restaurants, nearly a third of its outlets after a rescue plan was agreed at the end of January. And the UK Italian restaurant chain, Strada, has announced the closure of 11 sites, citing “disappointing trading and rising costs.”
Will we see a major change in restaurant chains in the near future?