January 6, 2017 / 11:55 AM / 9 months ago

Chef Jamie Oliver to shut six UK restaurants over Brexit uncertainty

FILE PHOTO - Chef Jamie Oliver slices fish during an appearance on a TV show in Miami Beach, Florida February 22, 2008. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

LONDON (Reuters) - British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s eponymous group of Italian restaurants said on Friday it would close six of its UK eateries, citing pressures and uncertainty after the country voted to leave the European Union.

“As every restaurant owner knows, this is a tough market and post-Brexit, the pressures and unknowns have made it even harder,” said Simon Blagden, CEO of the Jamie Oliver Restaurant group, which also includes high street restaurants such as Fifteen, Barbecoa and Union Jacks.

“Because we refuse to compromise on the quality and provenance of our ingredients and our commitment to training and developing our staff, we need restaurants that can serve an average of 3,000 covers every week to be sustainable,” he added in a statement.

Imports to Britain have become more expensive since sterling plunged in the wake of last June’s Brexit vote.

The Group said it would look to sell its ‘Jamie’s Italian’ restaurants in Aberdeen, Cheltenham, Exeter, Ludgate, Richmond and Tunbridge Wells in the first quarter.

Blagden said the group would refocus UK strategy on its Barbecoa brand, with two planned UK openings for it this year - along with 22 planned openings for the Jamie’s Italian brand abroad.

The company said it would move affected employees to its other restaurants and would help others find alternative employment.

The closures represent less than 5 percent of total turnover, it added.

Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; editing by Stephen Addison

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