British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is poised to buy back his eponymous Italian restaurant franchise chain from the failed Keystone group.
Receiver Morgan Kelly from Ferrier Hodgson announced the Jamie Oliver Group as the preferred bidder for the Australian Jamie’s Italian chain.
“The Australian Jamie’s Italian franchises can now go from strength to strength under the direct management of the Jamie Oliver Group,” he said.
After launching in the Sydney CBD five years ago, Jamie’s Italian restaurants subsequently opened in Canberra, Parramatta in western Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide.
Oliver said the Australian franchises were among the best performing Jamie’s Italian restaurants in the world.
“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,” the TV chef said.
“Bringing Jamie’s Italian in-house will also facilitate working more effectively across the other three pillars of the Jamie Oliver Group in Australia – media, licensing and Foundation.”
Oliver has 42 restaurants in the UK and over 25 internationally, including on Royal Caribbean cruise ships.
The announcement comes just 48 hours after Kelly announced six Keystone bars and restaurant had been sold to Melbourne-based Dixon Hospitality Group, run by former Spotless CEO Bruce Dixon and his son Michael. The Dixon Group now has control of Cargo Bar, Bungalow 8, The Rook, Winery, Manly Wine, and Kingsleys Woolloomooloo.
Sydney-based Keystone Group, which had 17 venues worth an estimated $100 million, was placed in receivership by its lenders in June this year.
The company blamed debt used to expand the business, as well as Sydney’s lockout laws, for its failure.
Negotiations for the sale of the remaining Keystone venues, which include the Sugarmill Hotel and Gazebo in Kings Cross, as well as Kingsleys Brisbane, continue.