JAMIE’S ITALIAN EMPIRE IN TROUBLE

Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant empire has racked up almost NZD$140 million in debt, with staff owed almost $2 million. The chain, which includes 25 restaurants in the UK and a further 28 overseas, reported losses of $19 million last year.

The chain has announced that 12 Jamie Oliver restaurants will close in an effort to save the chain, after reports that the company begged landlords to reduce rent. The move to close the restaurants was supported by 95 percent of creditors.

“We are pleased to have received the overwhelming support from our creditors for our proposal to reshape Jamie’s Italian restaurants,” said a statement from the restaurant. “We have a strong brand and are focused on continuing to deliver the levels of service, taste and the experience our loyal customers deserve. We are working hard to ensure that our estate is fit for the current trading environment and we feel confident that this newly shaped business will provide strong opportunities for growth and profitability.”

The downsizing has been blamed on the weakening pound as a result of Brexit and increasing ingredient prices.

Oliver’s sizeable personal assets are not at risk if the restaurant chain goes into liquidation.