Was HE the toxic ingredient? ALISON BOSHOFF on the & # 39; arrogant & # 39; brother-in-law of Jamie Oliver

His goose is cooked and his souffle has collapsed. Or, as he may say more bluntly, someone has filled his poussin.

Jamie Oliver has sold 40 million books, never seems to be on our TV screens, and is undoubtedly the most famous chef in the UK.

But that wasn't enough to convince diners to pay £ 4.50 for a flat garlic bread or £ 15.30 for a Prawn Linguine at Jamie's Italian chain.

More than 1,000 employees will lose their jobs and dozens of suppliers will come from their own pockets – some to a potentially disastrous size.

Jools Oliver and Jamie Oliver arrive for the European premiere of & # 39; Eddie The Eagle & # 39; on Odeon Leicester Square in 2016

Jools Oliver and Jamie Oliver arrive for the European premiere of & # 39; Eddie The Eagle & # 39; on Odeon Leicester Square in 2016

Banks and creditors, including HSBC – which recently agreed in September last year to lend more money to the company, with which it received a loan of £ 37 million – remain tense.

Jamie herself deposited £ 7.5 million in September 2017 as an emergency loan to stop Jamie's Italian and then buy another £ 5.2 million. He was convinced that his & # 39; turn-around plan & # 39; would work.

But his naturally cheerful character never translated into that much-needed feel-good factor for his restaurants.

Anna-Marie Hunt is the sister of Jamie Oliver and her husband is the director of his company

Anna-Marie Hunt is the sister of Jamie Oliver and her husband is the director of his company

Anna-Marie Hunt is the sister of Jamie Oliver and her husband is the director of his company

When the end came, he blamed a perfect storm of rising rent and wages, expensive imports, and difficult trading times. Oh yes, and Brexit. To be fair to Jamie, other restaurants such as GBK, Prezzo, Strada and Carluccio & # 39; s have suffered.

In February last year he closed 12 restaurants and placed his company in a voluntary company, which is a step away from insolvency. Documents from the court showed that the group at that time owed £ 41.5 million to a large number of creditors.

Towards the end of this spring, he was looking for an investment partner to take the business off your hands.

Once bullish, he said he believed the informal food market was about to enjoy a renaissance and that Jamie & # 39; s Italian could survive. He was wrong and managers were appointed yesterday.

It's a huge blow for Jamie, who turns 44 next week. He was thrilled with enthusiasm by the happiest memories that grew up in the Cricketers pub in Clavering Essex, run by his father Trevor. He wanted that & # 39; perfect cocktail & # 39; recreating good food for dinner and good value.

The famous chef, 40, paid nearly £ 10 million for this eight-bedroom home in North London

The famous chef, 40, paid nearly £ 10 million for this eight-bedroom home in North London

The famous chef, 40, paid nearly £ 10 million for this eight-bedroom home in North London

& # 39; I remember that I was fascinated by what happened in the kitchen, & # 39; he said. & # 39; It just seemed like this & # 39; n cool place, everyone who worked together to make this beautiful stuff and laugh about it. & # 39;

It was thanks to the money he earned as a broadcaster that he found a way to set up his own chain. His big break came when a visiting TV crew saw him work in his first job as a cook at the swanky River Cafe in Hammersmith in 1997.

The immediate success of Naked Chef, the TV show he received, brought time to his vast business empire, a platform where he campaigned for things like school dinners and energy drinks, and for charitable businesses such as the fifteen cooking schools that helped the poor and too little paid people to become chefs. His fortune is now reportedly around £ 150 million.

He lives with his wife Jools and their five children in a £ 10 million home in Hampstead and is a workaholic who often puts 15-hour days at his headquarters in North London. He also recently purchased a huge 70-acre 16-century country house in Essex for £ 6 million.

In a painful turn, the spotlight now falls on Paul Hunt, a flashy former city trader who happens to be Jamie's brother-in-law

In a painful turn, the spotlight now falls on Paul Hunt, a flashy former city trader who happens to be Jamie's brother-in-law

In a painful turn, the spotlight now falls on Paul Hunt, a flashy former city trader who happens to be Jamie's brother-in-law

This sign appeared this morning in the window of the Jamie & # 39; s Italian in Victoria, central London

This sign appeared this morning in the window of the Jamie & # 39; s Italian in Victoria, central London

This sign appeared this morning in the window of the Jamie & # 39; s Italian in Victoria, central London

The problem is that he has never been a businessman. He was dyslexic and left the school at the age of sixteen; it was his talent for cooking and communication that made him rich. But his hubristic approach to the restaurant business only seems to have diminished his wealth.

In a moment of sincerity, he once said he had about 40 percent of his business ventures revamped & # 39 ;. He added: & # 39; There is often a disadvantage of being the first to come in. In the future, I might spend a little more time getting the second and doing well. & # 39;

Especially since it seems like everything but the TV shows and books was a disaster.

Spains Hall in Finchingfield, Essex, recently purchased by star chef Jamie Oliver

Spains Hall in Finchingfield, Essex, recently purchased by star chef Jamie Oliver

Spains Hall in Finchingfield, Essex, recently purchased by star chef Jamie Oliver

Workers at the Piccadilly Circus Jamie & # 39; s Italian (photo) were seen as ridiculous when it was closed this morning

Workers at the Piccadilly Circus Jamie & # 39; s Italian (photo) were seen as ridiculous when it was closed this morning

Workers at the Piccadilly Circus Jamie & # 39; s Italian (photo) were seen as ridiculous when it was closed this morning

In a painful twist the spot now falls on Paul Hunt, a flashy former city trader who happens to be Jamie's brother-in-law.

He has been the director of the Jamie Oliver Group since 2014 and Jamie has postponed the daily management of the company. & # 39; Remember that my day job & # 39; jazz hands & # 39; does and creates content for television and books, & # 39; Jamie explained. & # 39; I can't do everything. & # 39;

Timeline: How Jamie Oliver's chains were in debt

2008: Jamie & # 39; s Italian opened its first restaurant in 2008.

2015: Jamie At Home, which contracted agents to sell its range of cookware at parties, stopped trading after a loss. The company started in 2009, as part of the Jamie Oliver organization, before it was licensed for another company in 2013, but shut down in 2015.

2017: Jamie & # 39; s companies lost £ 20 million and forced him to close 18 of his Italian restaurants – which led to the loss of 600 jobs.

Chain struggled with debts of £ 71.5 million and wavered on the verge of bankruptcy before the chief injected his savings into the case.

The company also raised £ 37 million in loans from HSBC and other companies.

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

2018: Jamie & # 39; s Italian has locked twelve of its 37 sites under lock and key, with the last installment being executed through a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

He also came under fire for not paying suppliers after his chic steak restaurant Barbecoa crashed into the administration, leading to the closure of his branch, Piccadilly.

The restaurant in St Paul & # 39; s continued to trade and was taken over by a new company founded by Oliver, who was no longer legally responsible for the debts.

2019: All but three Jamie Oliver restaurants close to the company that are called managers, with 1,000 employees experiencing redundancy.

There is a widespread belief that Hunt will carry the can for the disaster. An Oliver ally told me that Hunt will have to go, even though it may mean difficult times for Jamie & # 39; s beloved sister Anna-Marie and her family.

Awkwardly Hunt, who has been married to Anna-Marie for more than 20 years, has a country house in Clavering – with formal gardens, a swimming pool and a tennis court – that until recently was only minutes away from Jamie's house there.

In January, Jamie moved a little farther away in Essex when he bought his Elizabethan stately home where he already ran into hot water with the city council on plans to move a medieval hook from a bedroom to the kitchen so he could make new dishes with using historical methods.

Jamie & # 39; s and Hunt & # 39; s families spend a lot of their time together and Anna-Marie told me last year: & # 39; We are so close to Jamie. I love him very much. & # 39;

Was Jamie right to appoint his brother-in-law to run the business empire? The chef explained him & # 39; sharp & # 39; and & # 39; sly & # 39; and said he considered him an & # 39; inspirational businessman & # 39 ;.

Hunt, however, was considered a surprising choice to replace the highly respected John Jackson, the former business mastermind of Sir Richard Branson, who resigned as CEO of Jamie Oliver in 2014.

After all, he was in trouble due to insider trading in 1999, the year after he married Jamie & # 39; s sister Anna-Marie.

At that time he worked for Refco Overseas, the London branch of a broker in American futures. He and four others were found guilty of & # 39; front-running & # 39 ;, a practice where traders take orders for shares large enough to move the market price, but – before placing the deal – buy the shares themselves and make a profit.

He was fined £ 60,000 and forbidden to trade for a year.

Hunt claims he was treated unfairly. & # 39; We have broken an exchange rule, & # 39; he said. & # 39; We didn't think we would break that rule. Our advisers told us that we were not. & # 39;

Oliver tweeted: "I am devastated that our beloved British restaurants have been managed. I am deeply saddened by this outcome and would like to thank all the people who have put their heart and soul into this company over the years."

Oliver tweeted: "I am devastated that our beloved British restaurants have been managed. I am deeply saddened by this outcome and would like to thank all the people who have put their heart and soul into this company over the years."

Oliver tweeted: & # 39; I am devastated that our beloved British restaurants have been managed. I am deeply saddened by this outcome and would like to thank all the people who have put their heart and soul into this company over the years. & # 39;

Pictured, from left to right: Paul Hunt, his wife Anne-Marie, Jamie & # 39; s wife Juliette Norton and, on the far right, Jamie Oliver

Pictured, from left to right: Paul Hunt, his wife Anne-Marie, Jamie & # 39; s wife Juliette Norton and, on the far right, Jamie Oliver

Pictured, from left to right: Paul Hunt, his wife Anne-Marie, Jamie & # 39; s wife Juliette Norton and, on the far right, Jamie Oliver

Once in position, Hunt immediately took an ax to the loss-making parts of Jamie's empire. He closed the JME group that made cookware and also his Recipease cookery schools, the last series of which showed net liabilites of over £ 8.7 million.

Wood fired Jamie Oliver ovens were also closed. Then the Union Jacks restaurants, a disappointment for Jamie personally when they started in 2011 with Chris Bianco, a friend known as the Arizona Pizza King.

The chain had commitments of around £ 6.4 million.

Mr Hunt (pictured with Jamie Oliver) became & # 39; testosterone central & # 39; branded by a woman who worked with him

Mr Hunt (pictured with Jamie Oliver) became & # 39; testosterone central & # 39; branded by a woman who worked with him

Mr Hunt (pictured with Jamie Oliver) became & # 39; testosterone central & # 39; branded by a woman who worked with him

Paul Hunt said in an interview that this & # 39; desperate times & # 39; but that the Jamie Oliver brand had been expanded so quickly that corrective action was essential.

He said: & We had somewhere in the region of … I think it was 38 different companies we were involved with. Everything from talent agencies to graphic design studios, to restaurants. We had to remake the company about Jamie.

& # 39; It was incredibly stressful. We were all working until two o'clock in the morning and slept on the office floor when needed. We had to make some extremely difficult decisions. & # 39;

Which restaurants close?

All but three of Jamie Oliver's restaurants are closed after the company has called managers, while 1,000 employees have been made redundant.

On Tuesday, KPMG managers published a list of branches that closed immediately.

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

Jamie & # 39; 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 center, London)

Fifteen (Hoxton, London)

Restaurants that still trade

Jamie & # 39; s Italian (Gatwick North, London)

Jamie & # 39; s Italian Coffee Lounge (Gatwick North, London)

Jamie Oliver & # 39; s Diner (Gatwick South, London)

Jamie Oliver & Fifteen Cornwall and Jamie & # 39; s Italian International are also still traded and are not part of the administrative process.

This initially had a positive effect in the bottom line and the Jamie Oliver Holdings accounts in 2015 showed a pre-tax profit of £ 10.2 million, compared to £ 200.00 the year before.

But then, in the fall of 2017, what can be read now came as a clear signal of a looming disaster.

Three of Jamie's trusted senior executives – a ten-year director, the head of his restaurant business and his financial director – left the company within a few weeks.

Oliver & # 39; s publicists said that Hunt & # 39; restructuring & # 39; used to be. But an insider later described him anonymously as an incompetent bully who had a problem with high-flying women, forcing Jamie to defend Hunt and insisting that the claims & # 39; nasty & # 39 ;, & # 39; false & # 39; and & # 39; nonsense & # 39; goods.

A senior figure said: & # 39; Paul Hunt is an arrogant, incompetent failure. He knows almost nothing about restaurants and even less about publishing.

& # 39; He drives the company into the ground and the day he resigns, the staff have to hold a big party … the morale is on the bottom. & # 39; Hunt said his claims & # 39; vengeful & # 39; and & # 39; unfounded & # 39; goods.

Meanwhile, Jamie's Italian lost money. The Italian chain grew from a single outlet in Oxford in 2008 to 43 stores by 2016 and was so bloody that it jeopardized the profitability of the entire group.

Diners complained that the restaurant was expensive, perhaps because of the use of high-quality ingredients, and that the menu was tired. They stayed away.

Jamie's advisers did not understand why the customer would buy his books and watch his shows – but choose to eat out at a rival restaurant.

Jon Knight, a former Marks and Spencer executive, was appointed as CEO for the Italian division and was frank about the mistakes that had been made. & # 39; We opened too many restaurants, too quickly, in the wrong places & he said. & # 39; We opened in places that were not university towns and not enough of a tourist element. & # 39;

He was optimistic that Jamie & # 39; s Italian would be profitable and debt-free again in 2021. It was a lost hope.

Inspired by those memories of his father's Cricketers pub, Jamie pursued his romantic dream of "decent ingredients, high-quality ingredients, at average prices & # 39; to deliver as long as he could: & # 39; I grew up in that. I really care. & # 39;

But the hard business reality inevitably took over and the dream is now shattered. Or, as he said: & # 39; We came about half way, and then it all ran away. & # 39;

Jamie & # 39; s Kitchen Nightmare: 1,000 jobs lost and millions owed to suppliers as TV cook keeps up with the ailing restaurant chain

Jamie Oliver pulled the plug from his restaurant empire yesterday, leaving 1,000 people out of work and suppliers owed millions of pounds.

The ovens were turned off and the doors were closed at 22 eateries, including almost all Jamie & # 39; s Italian chain.

The multi-millionaire TV chef has promised to ensure that employees are paid what they owe.

But the collapse of the company left many employees crying and angry – and had to look for jobs at a time when the restaurant sector is in crisis.

When the end came, he blamed a perfect storm of rising rent and wages, expensive imports, and difficult trading times. Personnel depicted at a branch in Leeds, where a potential punter is averted

When the end came, he blamed a perfect storm of rising rent and wages, expensive imports, and difficult trading times. Personnel depicted at a branch in Leeds, where a potential punter is averted

When the end came, he blamed a perfect storm of rising rent and wages, expensive imports, and difficult trading times. Personnel depicted at a branch in Leeds, where a potential punter is averted

An analysis of the cause of the failure is probably the attention of Oliver & # 39; s brother-in-law Paul Hunt, who is described as & # 39; arrogant & # 39; and & # 39; incompetent & # 39 ;. Mr. Hunt, husband of the chef's sister, Anna-Marie, was hired to run Jamie Oliver Ltd in 2014 and then became director despite reports of harassment and was banned in 1999 as a trader of the insider trading town.

But the company has rejected claims against Mr. Hunt. Last year, Oliver said Hunt had run the company in a difficult period, & # 39; to create a healthy and creative place to work & # 39 ;.

Jamie & # 39; s Italian has been struggling for years and Oliver would have used £ 17 million of his own money to keep it alive.

The chef, whose personal fortune is supposed to be £ 150 million, has blamed the Brexit and the difficult trade for the chain's problems. But critics said the real reason was the high prices for average food and service.

An employee of Jamie & # 39; s Italian on King Street, Manchester, said the staff only thought they were losing their jobs when accountants from the insolvency firm KPMG turned up. He added: & # 39; They have sent us a message saying that the company has stopped trading from now on.

& # 39; We didn't know it. There were about 15 of us. It is a shock. & # 39;

Employees of Jamie & # 39; s Italian in Birmingham claim to have been fired by email just 30 minutes before the collapse of the company was announced.

Manager Josh Singh, 24, said: & I am stripped. We received an email from KPMG that actually said, "I'm afraid you're getting fired, don't bother coming to work." & # 39;

Another employee, who does not wish to be named, said: & e-mail is a fairly cold way to dismiss your staff.

& # 39; I am really angry because Jamie is not the one who is looking for a job and has trouble paying his bills.

& # 39; He and his management became greedy. Why do you pay £ 100 plus for a meal if you feel like you are eating it quickly? You might as well go to McDonalds. & # 39;

Yesterday, Channel 4-star Oliver, who recently moved his family to a £ 6 million 16th-century mansion in Essex, said he & # 39; destroyed & # 39; used to be.

The decision to employ the company yesterday led to the immediate closure of 20 branches of Jamie & # 39; s Italian, plus the Barbecoa steakhouse in the City of London and a fifteen outlet in Shoreditch in East London.

The process does not affect Fifteen restaurant in Cornwall, a social enterprise run by the Cornwall Food Foundation to help disadvantaged young adults.

But Matthew Thomson, from the foundation, said: & it's a desperately sad day. There are tears here. & # 39;

Customers took social media following the announcement that the restaurants were closed. One wrote: & # 39; No surprise. You have been to your restaurants a few times, average food and poor service. & # 39;

But another said: & # 39; Dunno, why everyone wants to bash JO so quickly, always fights the good fight. & # 39;

Managers at KPMG, who took over the management of the company, said that Oliver had tried in vain to sell it as a going concern for months. KPMG's Will Wright said: & # 39; The trading environment in the informal food sector is as tough as I have ever seen. & # 39;

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