Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa falls into administration

Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa restaurant chain has fallen into administration, the latest blow to the chef’s restaurant empire, which has already closed 18 branches of Jamie’s Italian in the past year.

M Restaurant’s Martin Williams has already expressed an interest in purchasing the business

Yesterday the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group confirmed it was seeking a valuation of the business with a view to selling off the two-site chain of restaurants. Today, the group confirmed that Barby Limited, a subsidiary of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, which owned Barbecoa, had fallen into administration.

Barbecoa was set up by Jamie Oliver and his friend American barbecue expert Adam Perry Lang in 2011 and has two outlets in London; one in Piccadilly and another in St Paul’s.

While its Piccadilly site has already closed and is up for sale, the restaurant’s sister site in St Paul’s will continue trading as normal, after Oliver’s group scrambled to broker a last minute deal to acquire its assets through One Change Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group that was set up only three weeks ago.

A spokesperson for the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group said: “We can confirm that Barby Limited has been placed into administration. One New Change Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, has purchased the assets and lease of Barbecoa St Paul’s and will be trading as normal.”

The Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group had already been working to cut costs in other areas of the business, having previously announced the planned closure of 12 Jamie’s Italian restaurants after court documents revealed that the chain had debts of £71.5m.

The chain had already closed down six Jamie’s Italian restaurants in January 2017. At the time, the company said that the closures were due to uncertainties over Brexit and a “tough” market.

Following news of the chain’s financial difficulties, Martin Williams, the founder of meat-based restaurant chain M, revealed he had already thrown his hat in the ring to save the business, expressing an interest in purchasing the restaurants.

Releasing a statement yesterday, Williams said: “I believe there is a future for Barbecoa which appears to be a casualty of the melt-down of the Oliver Empire,” he said. “I’m interested in acquiring the brand and protecting the jobs of staff, many of whom are very talented individuals whom I have mentored throughout my career. I believe the business has potential and we approached the company late last week to attempt to come up with a mutually acceptable agreement.”

Williams already has two London city centre M venues and an M Bar & Grill in Twickenham. Barbecoa would be a third brand for his enterprise but he is keen to stress that he will never become a chain operator.

“I believe that all restaurants have to have their own character,” he said. “That means giving freedom to the Managers and Chefs to develop their own concepts. The moment you impose central control the spark of creativity and the very life blood of the hospitality industry is crushed.”

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