As bailiffs move into former Jamie’s Italian restaurants Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin explains why he believes the group collapsed into administration, and why the casual dining sector is currently struggling.
Mr Martin said many of the casual dining sector’s recent failures had “thought they were so groovy that the brand would do the work for them”.
In a TV interview Mr Martin he added: “I think a lot of the casual dining sector and some of the pub companies as well got seduced by the drug of branding and Jamie Oliver was the ultimate brand but there were some others were as well.
“It’s not really about a brand, as someone told me 30 or 40 years ago.
“If you run a pub or restaurant it’s a trade and you’ve got to develop the individual aspects of the business as time goes along.A lot of these guys thought they were so groovy that the brand would do the work for them.If you follow that philosophy you won’t get everything right but you’ll start to get a few things right.”
Jamie Oliver announced earlier this month his restaurant chain had collapsed into administration, with thousands of redundancies confirmed after all but three of his UK restaurants were shut down. The demise of the Jamie Oliver franchise marks the latest in a long line of chains to be closed in an ultra-competitive sector, which has seen high street chains seek creditors voluntary arrangements (CVA) and site closures. Carluccio’s, Prezzo, Byron’s Strada, Chimichanga have all close sites with some seeking CVAs, as mounting financial pressures, including rate and rent increases, staffing costs and a falling pound following the Brexit vote have taken their toll, last year accountancy group UHY Hacker Young revealed one third of the UK’s top 100 restaurant chains are now loss-making.
However, Mr Martin said the casual dining industry was not over-saturated.
“I think we’re probably all willing to go out for a pint and a meal at the right price” he said
“I think Jamie Oliver’s chain and others tried to get into the most expensive locations, they thought they were good enough.
“They set very high prices on their menu and they weren’t experienced at running these businesses.
“But if you offer us a decent price for our pint or meal then we’ll go out for one – that’s the way the people are – but they just didn’t manage to do it.”
Jamie Oliver Holdings, which operates Jamie Oliver Limited and Jamie Oliver Licensing Limited, as well as the international restaurant franchise business, Jamie’s Italian International Limited, will continue to trade as normal, as will Fifteen Cornwall, which operates under a franchise.