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Jamie Oliver 'saddened' after restaurant chain goes into administration

In 2017 the chef (pictured in 2018) plunged £7.5m from his savings into his chain

Staff members went home in tears today after turning up for work at Jamie Oliver's restaurant chain - only to find it had crashed into administration and they no longer had a job. 

The celebrity chef's beleaguered chain Jamie's Italian - which had run up £71.5million in debt - has appointed administrators, putting as many as 1,300 jobs at risk.

The 43-year-old, who has netted £240 million during 20 years in the public eye, said he was 'devastated' and 'deeply saddened by the outcome'.

He thanked staff and suppliers, adding: 'I appreciate how difficult this is for everyone affected. It's been a real pleasure serving you.'  

Staff at Oliver's flagship restaurant in Birmingham claim they were sacked by email just 30 minutes before the company announced it had collapsed. 

One worker said: 'I'm really angry because Jamie won't be the one looking for a job and struggling to pay his bills, it'll be poor saps like us who worked for him.'  

Experts say the growth of takeaway apps, and a 'saturation' of food chains on Britain's high streets contributed to eroding the company's earnings. 

The crumbling chain was also beset by a tide of poor reviews, including from restaurant critic Marina O'Loughlin who in 2018 said she would have to be 'paid to go back' to his restaurant in Westfield London. 

The chef himself previously blamed his empire's parlous state on Brexit, which he said was among the factors which caused a 'perfect storm', as well as rental costs, local government rates and the increase in the minimum wage. 

In 2017 the father-of-five, who lives in a £6million 16th century Essex mansion, ploughed £12.7million of his own money into his struggling business after being given two hours to save the chain.  

According to Companies House, Jamie Oliver Holdings Ltd - the umbrella company under which he runs his myriad businesses - turned over £32 million last year - a staggering £87,670 a day. 

But Jamie's Italian was on the brink of collapse two years ago with the chef revealing in an interview it had 'simply run out of cash' and run up millions in debt.

Workers at the Piccadilly Circus Jamie's Italian (pictured) were seen looking rueful when it closed down this morning

Staff outside Jamie's Italian in Piccadilly, London - they turned up for work this morning only to find the restaurant closed 

Jools Oliver seen here for the first time today since the news her husband's restaurant empire had crumbled 

This sign appeared in the window of the Jamie's Italian in Victoria, central London this morning

Timeline: How Jamie Oliver's chains plunged into debt

2008: Jamie's Italian opened its first restaurant in 2008.

2015: Jamie At Home, which contracted agents to sell his cookware range at parties, ceased trading after racking up losses. The company began in 2009, as part of the Jamie Oliver organisation, before being licensed to another firm in 2013, but shut up shop in 2015.

2017: Jamie's businesses lost £20m, forcing him to shut 18 of his Italian restaurants - leading to the loss of 600 jobs.

Chain was struggling with debts of £71.5m and teetered on the edge of bankruptcy before the chef injected his savings into the business. 

The firm also took out £37m in loans from HSBC and other companies. 

In 2017 he closed the last of his four his Union Jack Piazzas, in London's Covent Garden. 

2018: Jamie's Italian shuttered 12 of its 37 sites, with the latter tranche executed through a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

He also came under fire for failing to pay suppliers after his upmarket steak restaurant Barbecoa crashed into administration, leading to the closure of its Piccadilly branch.  

The restaurant in St Paul's continued to trade and was bought out by a new company set up by Oliver, who was no longer legally liable for the debts. 

2019: All but three of Jamie Oliver's restaurants close after the business called in administrators, with 1,000 staff facing redundancy. 

Oliver has built his vast fortune on TV and publishing deals, restaurant chains and product endorsement — both in the UK and Australia, where he fronts nutrition adverts for a supermarket. 

Speaking today, he said: '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.' 

The business said it had appointed KPMG to oversee the process, with a more detailed announcement expected later today. 

More than 1,300 jobs are understood to be at risk nationally from the collapse of the business, which also includes Oliver's Barbecoa restaurant near St Paul's Cathedral, and Fifteen London. 

The process does not affect Mr Oliver's other companies, which handle his media and licensing deals, while the international branch of Jamie's Italian is also unaffected.

Fifteen Cornwall, which operates under a franchise, is also not involved.

It follows a hunt for a new investor in the Jamie's Italian brand, with a number of private equity firms touted as mulling bids for a stake in the business. 

Overseas, five branches of the Australian arm of Jamie's Italian were sold off last year, while another was put into administration.

Barbecoa was said have owed £6.7million owed to creditors in the wake of the problems, although the group insists everyone has been paid. 

Despite the troubles, Oliver said earlier this year that casual dining was 'primed for a comeback.'

Oliver tweeted: 'I'm devastated that our much-loved UK restaurants have gone into administration. I am deeply saddened by this outcome and would like to thank all of the people who have put their hearts and souls into this business over the years.'

Tearful staff members were 'devastated and shocked' when they turned up for work at Jamie's in Covent Garden today - only to find it had closed

Chef Colin Roberts, 31, has worked at Jamie's Italian in the Bull Ring for 19 months. He said: 'I was at home when I got an email at 10.30am telling me there was going to be a conference call in half-an-hour'

Shocked staff turned up for work at Jamie's Italian in Covent Garden, London this morning - to find a notice on the door 

Which restaurants will close?  

All but three of Jamie Oliver's restaurants have closed after the business called in administrators, with 1,000 staff facing redundancy.

On Tuesday, administrators at KPMG released a list of branches closing immediately.

The three remaining restaurants, based at Gatwick, will continue to trade but could also be at risk if no buyer is found for the business.

Jamie's Italian closures:

Birmingham

Brighton

Cambridge

Cardiff

Edinburgh

Glasgow

Guildford

Leeds

Liverpool

London (Islington)

London (Covent Garden)

London (London Bridge)

London (Piccadilly)

London (Victoria)

London (Westfield White City)

London (Westfield Stratford)

Manchester

Nottingham

Oxford

York

Other closures

Barbecoa (One New Change shopping centre, London)

Fifteen (Hoxton, London)

Restaurants still trading

Jamie's Italian (Gatwick North, London)

Jamie's Italian Coffee Lounge (Gatwick North, London)

Jamie Oliver's Diner (Gatwick South, London)

Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall and Jamie's Italian International are also still trading and have not been part of the administration process.

Chef Colin Roberts, 31, from Walsall, West Midlands, has worked at Jamie's Italian in the Bull Ring for 19 months.

He said: 'I was at home when I got an email at 10.30am telling me there was going to be a conference call in half-an-hour.

'All the staff can dial into a number and take part in the calls. Speculation was rife that something was up but when we were all told that the company had gone into administration and we'd lost our jobs it was a huge shock.

'The restaurant is one of the busiest outside London and it's packed all the time. We had no idea this was coming and a lot of staff were in tears.

'I think there were too many restaurants opened at once and they couldn't support themselves. I've been on the phone looking for work since I found out.'

Josh Singh started work at the company as door staff in 2013 and has worked his way up the ladder to become manager.

The 24-year-old, from Birmingham, said: 'I am gutted. We received an email from KPMG basically saying, I'm afraid you're sacked, don't bother coming into work. 

'In the early years it was a destination restaurant but I think over time the message got lost. The company started giving things away and turned into your average high street restaurant instead of a celebrity restaurant.

'They opened restaurants all over the place and in places where you wouldn't expect celebrity restaurants to be like villages and very small towns.' 

Another member of staff, who did not wish to be named, said: 'Email is a pretty cold way to sack your staff.

'It was only half-an-hour before it was all over the news. 

'I'm really angry because Jamie won't be the one looking for a job and struggling to pay his bills, it'll be poor saps like us who worked for him.

'He and his management team got greedy. 

'They believed their own hype and thought they'd make billions without investing in the business.

'It was getting too commercial and I felt under pressure to get customers seated and ordered and then out too quickly.

'On busy nights it felt like a conveyor belt. Why pay £100 plus for a meal when you feel under pressure to eat it quickly? You might as well go to McDonalds.'

Workers at the Piccadilly Circus Jamie's Italian were seen leaving in floods of tears when it closed down this morning, according to a waiter at a neighbouring restaurant. 

Josh Singh started work at the company as door staff in 2013 and has worked his way up the ladder to become manager. The 24-year-old, from Birmingham, said: 'I am gutted. We received an email from KPMG basically saying, I'm afraid you're sacked, don't bother coming into work'

Staff outside Jamie's Italian Covent Garden. A sign was taped to the door of the venue advising customers of its closure directing any queries to KPMG, overseeing the process

The man, who works are Dishoom in Covent Garden, watched staff putting tables outside the central London restaurant at around 11am this morning.

He said a man arrived shortly afterwards and told them, 'stop what you're doing and go home, the restaurant is closed.'

There are still five tables and chairs outside, but a printed sign taped to the door says the restaurant is closed.

The Dishoom waiter said: 'They were all shocked and crying and leaving in tears and went home. We all really felt sorry for them and offered them jobs next door as they were all so upset.'

Staff at Jamie's Italian in nearby Piccadilly were seen enjoying a pint in the sunshine after news broke of its closure. 

Jamie's Italian Restaurant in Angel and Jamie's Italian in London's Victoria were closed today despite being set for ready for business.

The two-storey restaurant had been set for the lunchtime rush, with menus, cutlery and salt and pepper shakers laid out on the tables.

But patio table and chairs in its signature blue and orange, were stacked behind the locked glass front door of the Victoria venue.

Staff members arrive to pick up their belongings from Covent Garden after being told by email this morning from a 'devastated' Jamie Oliver that the restaurant was closing down

People trying to access the Jamie's Italian website have been met with this message on the homepage today

A member of staff at the Jamie's Italian in King Street, Manchester, said workers turned up for work as normal this morning only to be told the business had ceased trading.

The employee, who asked not to be named, said they had been visited by accountants from insolvency practitioner KPMG.

He said: 'At 10am we had two accountants from KMPG show up and they handed us a notice to say that the business has ceased trading as of now.

'We didn't know - nobody was aware of it. There were about 15 of us. It's a bit of a shock to the system to everyone. Some people have been here since day one, so over 10 years.' 

Gareth Ogden, from chartered accountants Haysmacintyre, said: 'Sky high rents, particularly at its premium sites, combined with soaring business rates have been at the heart of Jamie Oliver's recent woes. 

'The rescue plan put in place in 2017 appears to have now crashed on the rocks of over-supply in the casual dining market and consumer uncertainty. In a sector awash with excess supply, particularly in the Italian market, maintaining quality, reliability and point of difference is imperative for survival. 

'Jamie's Italian, the group's largest brand, is perhaps guilty of over-expansion and has lost the passion and zeal of its founder which was its USP when originally brought to market.'

Despite his financial woes, Jamie recently splashed out £6 million on a 16th century Essex mansion, in a 70-acre estate

More than 1,000 jobs are understood to be at risk nationally from the collapse of the business, which also includes Oliver's Barbecoa restaurants and Fifteen London (pictured) 

Simon Mydlowski, an expert in the hospitality industry, said Jamie's failed to keep up with trends in the sector.

Which restaurants are closing amid the high street bloodbath? 

Jamie Oliver's chains are among the casualties of the bloodbath sweeping the British high street 

Dining chains Giraffe and Ed's Easy Diner revealed in March that their owner  plans to close a third of the brand's sites.

Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) announced that a total of 27 out of its 87 restaurants would close. It bought Giraffe from Tesco in 2016 and combined it with Ed's Easy Diner after acquiring the chain that same year.

Underlying losses of £1.6million that hit the combined entity were revealed in its most recently available annual accounts.

Giraffe (pictured) is among the casualties of the bloodbath sweeping the British high street

Last year, several casual dining brands closed sites amid rising costs and tougher competition.

Prezzo, Byron, Carluccio's, Gaucho and Gourmet Burger Kitchen all shut branches. 

In November, creditors of Gourmet Burger Kitchen approved a plan to close 17 of the premium burger chain's restaurants, putting around 250 jobs at risk.

South Africa's Famous Brands, which acquired GBK in 2016 for £120 million, has previously unveiled stinging losses at the burger chain.

The firm said in October that it would take a pre-tax impairment charge of 874 million rand (£47.2 million) due to the brand's sustained under-performance. Also in 2018, Prezzo announced that 94 of its 300 outlets will close.

KPMG found the number of restaurants experiencing significant financial distress was 11,091 in March 2018, up 8 per cent on a year earlier. 

Senior market analyst Fiona Cincotta from Cityindex, added: 'The restaurant chain, which piggybacked on the fame of Naked Chef Jamie Oliver, has been struggling for years to keep the business model going in which the pasta dishes - most of Jamie's Italian offering - were too expensive for mid-range dinning and not high end enough to compete in the more expensive end of the market. 

'Higher rent, rising food prices, uncertainty over Brexit and competition from smaller, more nimble outfits, have been eroding the company's earnings over the last few years.  

'Although nobody in the company blamed Brexit for the situation it is telling that the Jamie Oliver franchise is alive and well abroad, operating 25 restaurants in other countries including Ireland. 

'The demise doesn't leave much to celebrate, only room for questions about how it could have been done better.' 

Julie Palmer from Begbies Traynor, a firm specialising in corporate restructuring,  said: 'The decline of the high-street is now affecting the casual dining sector, with restaurants including Prezzo, Byron Burger and Carluccio's all having been forced to undergo store closures during the past year.

'A tightening of consumer's belts has not helped as disposable income has decreased, while the rise of courier services such as Uber Eats and Just Eat is giving cheaper, more convenient options delivered straight to the door. 

'The decline in custom, combined with higher rental costs on the high-street, more online discount offers and increases to minimum wage has led to the business going off the boil.

'Despite a fresh cash injection as well as cutbacks made during the past two years, the group wasn't able to save itself and will serve as a warning shot to the rest of the industry as more restaurants start to feel the heat from the kitchen.'

In a frank interview last year, Oliver described the struggle for 'survival' for high street restaurants as he outlined plans to bring his Jamie's Italian brand back to life.

'The world's changed in the restaurant industry in the last year and a half,' he said.

'It's like any other business on the high street, it's just really, really tough. 

'We're in a changed time and obviously there's lots of pressures even for good businesses.'

Describing the pressure to adapt, he added: 'It's survival. 

'I don't know anyone in the restaurant industry that's doing high fives at the moment, unless they're a small neighbourhood restaurant and god bless if they are having a good time.' 

It follows a hunt for a new investor in the brand, with a number of private equity firms touted as mulling bids for a stake in the business.  

Today's announcement comes as another death knell for the British high street, with a host of once-popular restaurants and shops closing sites.  

In March, Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) said it planned to close more than a third of its Giraffe and Ed's Easy Diner outlets, while Carluccio's, Prezzo, Strada and Gourmet Burger Kitchen closed branches in 2018.  

Matthew Thomson, Chief Executive of Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall at Watergate Bay and the Cornwall Food Foundation, told MailOnline: 'We are really sorry to have heard today that the Jamie Oliver restaurants are going into administration.

'Fifteen Cornwall operates independently of the Jamie Oliver restaurant group as a charitable social enterprise under licence to Jamie Oliver and therefore is not affected by the changes in the restaurant group.' 

The rise and fall of Brand Jamie: How he made £200m after being plucked from obscurity to be a TV star – and lost a fortune thanks to Uber Eats and poor reviews  

Pictured: Jamie Oliver on The Naked Chef during its second series in 2000 

Jamie Oliver's food empire today came crashing down around him as the celebrity chef announced his restaurant brand had spiralled into administration.

Once hailed as the cheeky Essex-born chef who built a £200 million fortune despite leaving school at 16 with just two GCSEs, he was forced to admit that more than 1,000 jobs are now at risk.

Poor online reviews contributed to the worsening reputation of Jamie's Italian as food delivery apps such as Uber Eats conquer the market, leaving the chef unable to save his struggling brand.

It now owes £71.5million as experts claim Just Eat and saturation in food services combined to bring the 43-year-old's eateries down.

Jamie previously blamed Brexit for his woes and rental costs for his woes, but TripAdvisor reviewers branded his Covent Garden restaurant as 'shocking', 'nothing special' and pricey in recent months.   

The self-made chef's fall from grace comes after he refused to let severe dyslexia stand in his way of success.

Born to pub owners Trevor and Sally Oliver in Clavering, Essex, he started out practising cooking in the kitchen with his parents and sister. 

After leaving school, he went on to attend Westminster Technical College, earning a qualification in home economics, before getting a job as a pastry chef at the London restaurant of Italian cook Antonio Carluccio.

His shot at stardom came when a visiting TV crew spotted him working at the River Cafe in Hammersmith, West London, in 1997. 

Two years later he hit TV screens aged 23 on The Naked Chef, establishing his reputation as a cheeky, laid-back cook from Essex.

The BBC series was praised at the time for inspiring men to cook. It first aired on April 14th in 1999 and ran for three series and including Christmas specials. 

Jamie met his wife, Juliette — known as Jools — at college in 1993 when the pair were just 18.

They married in Essex in June 2000, with a low-key reception in Jamie's parents' garden, to which the chef wore a pale blue Paul Smith suit and snakeskin brogues.

Jools worked as a waitress before becoming a TV assistant, model and, briefly, her husband's PA.

Jamie hired his brother-in-law, Paul Hunt, married to his sister Anna-Marie, to run Jamie Oliver Ltd in 2014 — and last year Hunt assumed responsibility for the restaurants, too

The couple have five children - Poppy Honey Rosie, 17; Daisy Boo Pamela, 15; Petal Blossom Rainbow, 10; Buddy Bear Maurice, eight; and River Rocket Blue Dallas, two. 

He went on to present more than 25 cooking series, spearheading a campaign for improved nutrition in school meals. 

Jamie famously waged war on Turkey Twizzlers in 2005, when he visited Westminster to speak with politicians about his healthy school dinners campaign.  

The chef also released a host of accessible cookery books, including  'Jamie's 15 Minute Meals' and 'Everyday Super Food'. In 2010, 'How to Cook (Part One)' became the biggest selling cookbook of all time. 

Licensing his name for use on items such as Hotpoint ovens and Tefal pans has made him £7.3million before tax in 2016 alone. Cooking and recipe books have raked in £5.4million before tax in the same year. 

He opened his first Jamie's Italian in Oxford in 2008, growing it to more than 60 restaurants worldwide. 

In 2017 the restaurant chain lost almost £20million and was forced to close several of its branches.

It teetered on the edge of bankruptcy last year before the chef injected £12.7million of his savings into the business.  

That year he closed the last of his Union Jacks eateries and scrapped his magazine Jamie, which had been in print for almost 10 years. The father-of-five went on to describe that year as the worst of his life.  

By 2018, Jamie's Italian was struggling with debts of £71.5million. More than 600 people lost their jobs earlier this year the chain said it would close 12 sites.   

Despite his financial woes, Jamie recently splashed out £6 million on a 16th century Essex mansion, in a 70-acre estate, complete with ghost. He's reportedly planning to convert outhouses into a mega-kitchen from which he can film shows and hold his masterclasses.

He and Jools spent £8.9 million on a Grade II-listed mansion near Hampstead Heath, north London, in 2016, and spent two years renovating it.

It boasted seven bedrooms, an open-plan kitchen with cream Aga, a grand piano and a Louis XV-style bed worth £2,200, it's certainly impressive.

The Olivers have fitted the house with some quirky features, including a wood-fired pizza oven, a treehouse bed and a vegetable patch for the children.

Jamie hired his brother-in-law, Paul Hunt, married to his sister Anna-Marie, to run Jamie Oliver Ltd in 2014 — and last year Hunt assumed responsibility for the restaurants, too.

But some of his methods — such as making staff redundant over Christmas and cutting ties with Jamie's friends and culinary mentors — have led to a reputation for ruthlessness.

Last year, an anonymous insider described him as an 'arrogant, incompetent failure' who was 'running the business into the ground'.

Jamie rebutted the claims, saying the story was 'nonsense' and that Paul was 'a loyal brother-in-law and loving father as well as a strong and capable CEO'.

Oliver (pictured in 2002), first hit TV screens aged 23 on The Naked Chef, establishing his reputation as a cheeky, laid-back cook from Essex

London Hilton hotel is left without a food menu after Jamie Oliver's restaurant empire collapses 

A Hilton hotel has been left without a food menu due to the closure of Jamie Oliver's restaurant chain.

Hilton London Tower Bridge houses one of many Jamie's Italian restaurants at the four star hotel, which guests can access via the hotel lobby.

The four star hotel, which is yards from London Bridge, served food made by Jamie's Italian which is also open to the public.

Hilton staff watched on in sadness as their coworkers at Jamie's Italian left crying for their jobs and their colleagues who were 'like a family to them.'

Liam Davis, lead bartender at the Hilton, finished his shift at 2am this morning and returned hours later to find Jamie's staff in tears.

The 23-year-old, from south London, said: 'It was so, so sad.

'I think for a lot of them it was a really big shock. None of them knew anything, it was all so sudden.

'We woke up this morning and saw the sign on the door and they were all crying and in tears.

'A lot of them were crying, mainly because they did not want to be out of work but also because they were good friends.

'We are all friends and we work together. They make food for us and we are all like one family.

'In this industry, you see each other more than you see your family and it becomes part of your life. A lot of people who work there are also away on holiday.

'There are two twins who are in Poland at the moment and they will be expecting to work there this summer.

'It is affecting 1300 people across Jamie's and it will definitely affect us at the hotel in the short term.'

The food list for Jamie's Italian has been removed from the menu at the Hilton hotel which markets itself online as a 'sleek lodging with casual Italian dining and a cocktail bar.

Head bartender Liam said news of the closure is also a shock for staff at the hotel.

He added: 'It is a large shock for Hilton as well as it was super sudden.

'I don't think we knew at the Hilton, it was literally through KPMG as it has got acquisition through that group.

'If a few people want to work here, I am going to offer them jobs here.

'Customers come here expecting food and drink but the food all comes from Jamie's restaurant. We get no payment for it but we get to advertise it.

'We has to take the food menus out, but we have a separate kitchen which I think can provide room service'

Jamie's 'incompetent bully' brother-in-law behind his food empire: Executive was banned from the City for insider trading and had a PA in her 50s 'type her own redundancy letter'

Mr Hunt (pictured with Jamie Oliver) was branded 'testosterone central' by a female who used to work with him 

By Sebastian Murphy-Bates for MailOnline

The man behind Jamie Oliver's food empire is arrogant, plagued by failure and has a problem working with strong women, sources close to the celebrity chef said before his food group went into administration today.

The celebrity cook's brother-in-law, Paul Hunt, is said to have given a PA her own redundancy letter to type before she even knew she'd be out of a job.

Married to Oliver's sister Anna-Marie, he was appointed to run Jamie Oliver Ltd in 2014 and is still listed as a director at the failing brand.

In the same year he became a director of the Jamie's Italian chain and today it emerged than more than 1,000 of its restaurant staff are set to lose their jobs.

Mr Hunt was one of five directors at Jamie's Italian Ltd in its last available accounts, despite the brand losing £30million in that same year.

The 2017 accounts revealed directors enjoyed an average of £140,000 in salaries and bonuses.

But Mr Hunt has been described as a bully who made workers redundant on the spot one Christmas Eve and barked 'tea, tea' at a 'lovely PA' in her 50s when he wanted a drink.

'Paul Hunt is an arrogant, incompetent failure,' a source close to the TV chef told The Times in March last year. 'He knows virtually nothing about restaurants and even less about publishing...the day he resigns the staff should have a big party.'

Mr Hunt previously worked for LIFFE futures and options exchange and was fined £60,000 in 1999 for insider trading while at Refco Overseas - the London arm of a US futures broker. Hunt was banned from trading for a year.

Pictured, left to right: Paul Hunt, his wife Anne-Marie, Jamie's wife Juliette Norton and, far right, Jamie Oliver 

The source that branded Hunt arrogant also said he has a 'problem' working with strong women and that his presence left staff 'desperate to leave'.

She said that the PA he screamed at when he wanted tea found out she was losing her job when he told her type up a set of redundancies and she was on the list.

Morale at the company is said to have become disastrously low after Mr Hunt, 54, was chosen to head up the culinary enterprise and introduced cost-saving measures.

A female executive who recently left the company described Hunt as 'testosterone central' and 'a City boy from central casting' with a mahogany suntan.

And she said that he appeared pleased when she handed in her resignation. Another source described him simply as useless and questioned his rising pay amid his failures.

The former City trader (pictured with his wife) allegedly made staff redundant on Christmas Eve and screamed 'tea tea' at his PA

One former employee said: 'He's always been more focused on cost cutting than quality. He's not tried to re-brand or do anything different.'

But as his brand's former workers raged at the alleged incompetency on display, the TV chef hit out at critics on Twitter.

'For the last 14 years, Paul has been deemed as fit and proper to be the sole director of a Financial Conduct Authority-licensed company, before becoming CEO of Jamie Oliver Group in July last year,' he said last year.

He dismissed 'nasty' claims that his brother-in-law and CEO of his business was a 'bully' who was destroying his empire.

'First, let me say that the story is nonsense and I absolutely refute the picture they paint of Paul and my business,' he said.

'I've known Paul for years both as a loyal brother-in-law and loving father as well as a strong and capable CEO who I charged with re-shaping the business.

'He has radically transformed our business for the better it's now more successful, vibrant and creative than ever and now we able to focus on doing the same in our UK restaurant business. I'm incredibly grateful for what's been achieved in a fairly short time.'

Some sacked staff said that they were told to leave the premises mid-shift and were given no notice.

The Notting Hill branch of Recipease had Christmas Eve 2015 as its last day of trading.

One member of staff said: 'Everyone here feels let down, particularly those like me who have worked a long time for Jamie and put everything into this shop. Christmas is the worst time to lose your job. The management have been ruthless.'

Bloodbath on the High Street: How shops went from bustling to bust

2018 saw one of the worst years for the UK High Street with retailers shutting their doors and plaguing homes across the country with many job losses.

Crisis hit brands such as House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer fought to keep stores open while other retailers such as New Look pushed for a solution to stop store closures and job losses.

In 2018 nearly 85,000 retail jobs were lost in the UK as businesses continued to go bust as 1,000 retail business went into administration between January and September. 

As well as this the number of retail outlets left empty was up by 4,400 in 2018 according to data from the Local Data Company.

High Street giant Gap has also announced it will close 230 stores worldwide as its US parent company launches a massive restructuring programme.

The pressure on High Street retailers has hit an all-time high as they continue to try and keep up with the ever growing popularity of online shopping. 

Online retailers are able to keep prices low as they don't face the massive rental costs of physical stores or the staff rates.

While retailers battle the rise in online shopping they are also being forced to battle Brexit, as many supply chain routes and whether or not they will be available in a no-deal scenario have put added cost worries onto retailers as many consider stock piling their items or not importing them at all. 

Here are some of the big name retailers which have lost out as they face fierce competition from the rise of online shopping

Carpetright

The carpet retailer is closing 92 stores across the UK. These closures represent nearly a quarter of all UK Carpetright stores.

Toys R' Us

The UK's largest toy shop went into administration in February 2018, leading to an estimated 2,000 redundancies.

House of Fraser

The department store chain was on the verge of heading into administration but was rescued at the eleventh hour by Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley.

Maplin

The electronics giant has gone bust, closing shops across the country and putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Mothercare

The baby and toddler chain is closing 60 shops across the UK putting up to 900 jobs at risk.

Poundworld

Poundworld announced it was going into administration on June 11 after talks with potential buyer R Capital broke down, putting 5,100 jobs at risk.

Homebase

The DIY chain set to close 42 DIY outlets shut, putting around 1,500 jobs at risk.

Marks & Spencer

The retailer announced in May it plans to close 100 stores by 2022, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.

In August stores in Northampton, Falkirk, Kettering, Newmarket, New Mersey Speke, Stockton and Walsall all ceased trading.

Orla Kiely 

Orla Kiely, the Irish fashion retailer collapsed in September and closed all its stores after a slump in profits.

HMV

In December HMV entered into administration with its flagship London Oxford Street having closed earlier this year.  

L.K Bennett

Fashion brand L.Bennett announced it was filing for administration on March 1, 2019. Linda Bennett sent employees an email early in the morning to inform them of the news before it hit news outlets.

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