Jamie Oliver: Business collapse was very painful
Jamie Oliver has said the collapse of his restaurant business was “very, very painful”.
The celebrity chef’s restaurant chain suffered 22 closures and about 1,000 redundancies.
He said that despite the pain of watching two decades of work crumble, he has no regrets about an approach to the restaurant trade which “employed loads of people” but was difficult to sustain.
Oliver said he did everything he could to make his business a success, and the collapse into administration was not unique.
Oliver has described the experience of his chain’s collapse as: “Very painful, very very painful. This is the part of my life that I’ve been building up for 20 years.”
The star, who rose to fame as the “Naked Chef” before building a large empire of restaurants, TV shows and cook books, is proud of what he achieved.
He said: “Obviously it’s been tough but, you know, no regrets really. I did everything I could.
“I created something really magic, did amazing things, employed loads of people, bought only through food systems that were really positive.
“We made it, we whooped everyone’s ass, and then, you know.
“I just couldn’t make it last sustainably, and there’s a million reasons, that I’ve said a million times, as to what our challenge was, but I lost this time.
“What happened to me was not unique – it’s been happening to small, medium and some large businesses all over the country.”
Oliver added that caring about ethical sources of food and fair treatment of staff was not a lucrative business model.
He said: “In business… it’s not a level playing field.”
Despite this setback he will continue to put pressure on the Government regarding children’s health and nutrition.
The chef will seek to lobby minsters and new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and employ an expert team for the task.
He will ensure it is business as usual in his drive to improve public health.
Oliver said: “We are constantly talking to experts, to other NGOs, to the myriad of ministers, to the myriad of PMs that come through.”
On Mr Johnson he said: “Of course I’ve met him on a number of occasions, I’ve seen him as mayor, and I’ve seen him say one thing and contradict one thing.
“Not that I’m an expert in the politics.
“Will we continue to weekly speak to his teams? Yes. Will I want to meet with him as soon as possible? Yes.
“But I guess he’s busy and there’s lots of pressing things.
“Is child health a central pillar of Britain now and in the future? Yes.”
Oliver has said that he employs a team of four communications experts enlisted to lobby and research.
He returns to TV screens with the Channel 4 show Jamie’s Meat-Free Meals in early September.
He will also release his latest book Veg, published by Penguin Random House, later this month.