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Jamie Oliver to Shutter Six Restaurants; CEO Blames Brexit

A weaker pound has dealt a blow to the TV chef’s Italian chain


One of the UK’s biggest celebrity chefs is feeling the Brexit pinch: Anti-sugar crusader and Gordon Ramsay nemesis Jamie Oliver is planning to close six UK locations of his fast-casual chain Jamie’s Italian, Bloomberg reports.

“As every restaurant owner knows, this is a tough market and post-Brexit, the pressures and unknowns have made it even harder,” restaurant group CEO Simon Blagden said in a statement.

The pound fell significantly after UK voters approved a referendum to leave the European Union back in June, and that means restaurants are paying more for imported products — a big problem for a restaurant that relies heavily on Italian goods such as olive oil, salumi, and cheese.

The CEO minimized the impact of the shutdowns, saying, “These closures represent less than 5% of total turnover and impact less than 5% of our team members.” Jamie’s Italian has 42 locations within the UK and also has 28 international outposts thanks to franchising, recently opening in Australia and Latin America, as well as opening its first Canadian restaurant in Toronto. The fast-casual concept serves salumi boards, pizza, and pastas, plus wine and cocktails such as negronis.

Despite the closures, the company is forging ahead with big expansion plans, and is slated to open 22 new locations this year. Back in March the company revealed it would open its first U.S. location within a year — something it first began teasing way back in 2012 — though a company spokesperson was unable to offer any updates on its stateside arrival.

Jamie Oliver to Close Six UK Restaurants Amid Brexit Squeeze [Bloomberg]
How Brexit Will Affect London’s Famously Diverse Restaurant Scene [E]
What Will Brexit Mean for Food in the UK? [E]
More Jamie Oliver Coverage [E]

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