More than 1,000 jobs have been lost with the closure of the chain of Italian restaurants started by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
They include the branch of Jamie’s Italian in Black Lion Street, Brighton, and more than 20 others, although three sites at Gatwick airport will stay open.
Mr Oliver, 43, had pledged £4 million as the business sought to attract more funding from investors.
But today (Tuesday 21 May) the business was placed in administration, with specialist accountants from KPMG given the job of handling its affairs.
Five years ago his Brighton branch of Recipease, a cooking school and deli in Western Road, also closed, with the last of the chain folding a year later in 2015.
Mr Oliver said today: “I am deeply saddened by this outcome and would like to thank all of the staff and our suppliers who have put their hearts and souls into this business for over a decade. I appreciate how difficult this is for everyone affected.
“I would also like to thank all the customers who have enjoyed and supported us over the last decade. It’s been a real pleasure serving you.
“We launched Jamie’s Italian in 2008 with the intention of positively disrupting mid-market dining in the UK high street, with great value and much higher-quality ingredients, best-in-class animal welfare standards and an amazing team who shared my passion for great food and service. And we did exactly that.”
KPMG said: “Will Wright and Mark Orton, from KPMG’s restructuring practice, have been appointed joint administrators to Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group and its subsidiaries Jamie’s Italian, Jamie’s Italian Holdings, One New Change and Fifteen Restaurant.
“The group employs about 1,300 staff at 25 restaurants across the UK, including 22 under the Jamie’s Italian brand, in addition to Jamie Oliver’s Diner at Gatwick airport, Barbecoa and Fifteen London.
“The group recently undertook a process to secure additional investment in the business and, since the beginning of this year, Jamie Oliver has made additional funds of £4 million available to support fundraising.
“However, with no suitable investment forthcoming and in light of the very difficult current trading environment, the directors resolved to appoint administrators.
“Following their appointment, all but three of the group’s 25 eateries have closed.
“Both Jamie’s Italian restaurants and Jamie Oliver’s Diner at Gatwick airport will continue to trade in the short term while the joint administrators explore options for the sites.
“Regrettably, these closures will result in about 1,000 redundancies.
“Jamie Oliver Holdings has made arrangements to ensure all restaurant staff salaries will be paid up to the date of the administrators’ appointment.
“The international restaurants trading as Jamie’s Italian, Jamie’s Pizzeria and Jamie’s Deli will continue to trade as normal and are not affected by the administration of the UK restaurant business.”
Mr Wright said: “The current trading environment for companies across the casual dining sector is as tough as I’ve seen.
“The directors at Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group have worked tirelessly to stabilise the business against a backdrop of rising costs and brittle consumer confidence.
“However, after a sales process that sought to bring new investment into the business proved unsuccessful, the team took the incredibly difficult decision to appoint administrators.
“Unfortunately, with insufficient funds available to be able to trade the business in administration, all but the Gatwick airport restaurants have now closed.
“Our priority in the coming hours and days is to work with those employees who have been made redundant, providing any support and assistance they need.”