Jamie Oliver’s severely diminished restaurant group has confirmed that its three remaining proprietary U.K. outlets — all at Gatwick airport, south of London — have been sold, through its administrators, to the transport hub hospitality operator, SSP.
As first reported by the Times’ Dominic Walsh, three separate spaces — Jamie’s Diner, Jamie’s Coffee Lounge, and the only remaining branch of Jamie’s Italian (which also includes Jamie’s Bakery Grab and Go!) — will continue to operate with the TV chef and campaigner’s name. The sale has also ensured the security of 250 jobs.
SSP manages the likes of Starbucks, Yo! Sushi, Burger King, and James Martin Kitchen at airport locations, a white-label service which specialises in heavy volumes for known brands at travel locations internationally. SSP already manages 12 Jamie Oliver-branded locations across Europe and says it has plans for expansion in Brazil and Bahrain.
Following the collapse of Oliver’s restaurant group last month, when it appointed the financial services company KPMG, Oliver closed 22 restaurants, including 20 Jamie’s Italians, Barbecoa steakhouse in the City, and the group’s flagship social enterprise Fifteen in Old Street, London. (Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall at Watergate Bay, a franchise, near Newquay, in which Oliver has no financial involvement, remains unaffected.)
At the time, Oliver, who set up Jamie’s Italian with his friend and mentor, Gennaro Contaldo, in 2008 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.” It is thought that in the region of 1,000 jobs were lost.
In a statement today, SSP said, “SSP Group...has taken over operations of the three Jamie Oliver food and beverage units at Gatwick Airport.
“All 250 members of staff who work across the Jamie Oliver’s Diner, Jamie’s Italian and Jamie’s Coffee Lounge at Gatwick Airport have transferred to SSP as part of the agreement.”
Simon Smith, SSP Group CEO, added: “We’re delighted to be expanding our partnership with Jamie Oliver, especially as we already operate 12 Jamie Oliver units in Austria, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain, and have further units planned in Brazil and Bahrain.
“Jamie’s cafes and restaurants are much loved by customers all around the world, so we’re very excited to be adding the brand to our UK portfolio and increasing our presence at Gatwick Airport.”