Jamie Oliver steers clear of the challenging mid-market market in London

Jamie Oliver is avoiding the UK casual dining sector due to “huge pressures” placed on mid-market restaurant chains, according the CEO of his business interests. He will be returning four years after the collapse of his Italian chain.

Kevin Styles who became chief executive officer of Oliver’s empire last year said that he “would not try to duplicate” the rapid growth of Jamie’s Italian, which went from one Oxford restaurant to 25 before it collapsed in administration with £85mn in debts.

In November, the Covent Garden area of London will welcome Jamie Oliver Catherine Street. This new restaurant from the television chef is the first UK-owned site since the administration.

Styles said, “We will be strategic and focused in what we do for the UK restaurant market.” Styles said, “We are not attempting to implement a 30–40 site restaurant chain.”

Styles explained his decision to open a restaurant at a price higher than Jamie’s Italian by saying: “There will be enormous pressures on the mid-market. There always are when an economy falters.

Styles said that the mid-market casual dining sector is facing significant challenges in terms competition, rent, [business] rates and energy. “That has been a perfect hurricane not only for [Jamie’s Italian] but also for many other businesses.”

As high inflation and an economic slowdown combine, casual-dining chains that cater to consumers with average incomes are being hit. The number of casual dining outlets in the UK dropped by 4.2 percent to 5,160, nearly twice as fast as the pub industry, between March of this year and the end of last year.

The Restaurant Group (owner of Frankie & Benny’s), Prezzo, Richard Caring’s Bill’s chain, and Byron Burger have all announced that they will be closing more than 100 restaurants this year. Prezzo’s landlords had to absorb losses of £32mn last month after a restructuring was approved.

Oliver’s 70 franchised restaurant empire announced that in 2022 it posted a profit before tax of £7.7mn , a significant increase from the previous year’s £6.5mn. Sales increased by 8.1 percent to £29.7 million.

Oliver and Jools received a £6.8mn dividend from a rise in revenue not only at restaurants, but also through TV shows, the sale of about 2mn cookbooks and Oliver’s London cooking school. The couple received a 21 per cent increase in dividends compared to a year ago.