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Mon, 29 Oct, 2018Jim Mitchell

Jamie Oliver in dire straits: “I haven’t got any more money”

Jamie Oliver in dire straits: “I haven’t got any more money”

Jamie Oliver has admitted he can’t afford to prop up his struggling restaurant chain any more after injecting $AU23 million of his own money to save them from closing last October.

Things really started to go pear-shaped for the the celebrity chef’s Jamie’s Italian restaurants, which opened in 2008, earlier this year when it was announced that 12 restaurants would close, and the company requested rent cuts at 11 other locations in a bid to pay $AU130 million worth of debt. Over 600 people were made redundant with more many more jobs in jeopardy.

According to Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group chief executive John Knight, the dire straits is due to rapid expansion and choosing the wrong locations, reports news.com.au.

Although the celebrity chef said he “was not broke”, he told the Mail on Sunday that he couldn’t put the rest of his business interests, in jeopardy by bleeding more cash into his restaurant chain.

“There’s a point where I can’t put the other side of the business at risk as well and the people who work there," Oliver said. “The upside is I am now fully in control of the restaurant business. It’s fully owned by me. We’re getting on top of it and we’ve learned lots of lessons.

“I haven’t got any more [money]. I tried to do the right thing, I’ve never been paid by the restaurant group, I’ve always reinvested. My living was always the other side [of the business].

“So I could have just gone, ‘Do you know what? Let it go.’”

Oliver told the Financial Times in an interview earlier this year that the business had “run out of cash".

“We hadn’t expected it,” he said. “That is just not normal, in any business. You have quarterly meetings. You do board meetings. People [who are] supposed to manage that stuff should manage that stuff.”

He revealed just how desperate the situation had become for his restaurant chain, forcing his decision to inject millions of his own money to try and save it.

“I had two hours to put money in and save it or the whole thing would go to s*** that day or the next day,” he told the publication. “It was as bad as that and as dramatic as that.”

Oliver revealed to Sunday Night that the experience was a humbling one, and that people shouldn’t think that even those who are immensely successful are not “untouchable".

“I’ve had my fair share of failure … don’t be under the illusion I’m untouchable,” he said.

Although the drama has been “character building,” he told the program dealing with the troubled Jamie’s Italian restaurants had been “really tough".

“Yeah a huge weight, I carry lots of burden … of stuff … which is my choice to do so,” said Oliver.

But Knight claims that within four years, Oliver will get his money back “or at least most of it”, with Jamie’s Italian restaurants “back to value” and debt free.

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