Ferrier Hodgson, receivers for the Keystone Group, announced yesterday that the Jamie Oliver Group is the preferred bidder for the Jaime's Italian chain in Australia.
Receiver Morgan Kelly says it is an ideal outcome for the six Australian franchises, which includes Jamie's Italian Sydney, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide and Parramatta, to return to parent group ownership and operation.
"Jamie Oliver taking control over the restaurants is an exciting outcome for the restaurant staff and patrons," he says.
"The Australian Jamie's Italian franchises can now go from strength to strength under the direct management of the Jamie Oliver Group."
Current owner Keystone was placed into receivership by its lenders in June this year. Keystone's managing director John Duncan has attributed the company's failure to rising debt as the company undertook expansion as well as the Sydney lock out laws which placed significant strain on its business.
Keystone also operates a number of bars in Sydney including Bungalow 8, Cargo Bar, The Rook, The Winery and Manly Wine. Many of those Sydney assets are in the process of being sold to Dixon Hospitality Group.
Oliver says that the Australian franchise is some of the best performing Jamie's Italian restaurants worldwide. He adds that the receivership of Keystone does not in any way reflect the performance or success of the Jamie restaurants.
"The best news that could come out of the situation I've been placed in is for me to buy back the Jamie's Italian franchise. I believe in it and our Australian teams 100%," Oliver says.
"This will be a really exciting moment for me personally, and I know the guys will be ecstatic to be back in-house. It will allow us to invest even more time and money in people and restaurants, celebrate great Aussie produce and be even more creative."
He also hopes that by bringing the franchise back in-house that it will work more effectively across the other three pillars of the Jamie Oliver Group in Australia, being media, licensing and foundation.
The Jamie Oliver Group owns 42 restaurants in the UK and over 25 restaurants internationally.
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