Jamie Oliver to close six restaurants amid Brexit cost pain

Jamie Oliver has confirmed plans to close six Jamie's Italian restaurants as his business empire endures rising cost pressures linked to the Brexit vote.

His company announced that outlets in Aberdeen, Cheltenham, Exeter, Tunbridge Wells and Ludgate and Richmond - both in London - would shut by the end of March.

Its statement suggested trading at the restaurants had also not been up to scratch but it hoped to redeploy the 120 staff affected to other eateries within the group.

There are currently 70 Jamie's Italians worldwide - 42 of them in the UK which are likely to have been hit by higher costs for imported ingredients since the EU referendum because of the collapse in the value of the pound.

Simon Blagden, chief executive of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, said: "As every restaurant owner knows, this is
a tough market and, post-Brexit, the pressures and unknowns have made it even harder.

"While our overall business is in very good shape - we finished last year with like-for-like sales growth and an increase in covers - 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."

The announcement highlights the pressure facing businesses and consumers alike from rising costs.

Next (Frankfurt: 779551 - news) was the latest major retailer to warn of looming price hikes - of up to 5% in its case - because of increased import costs while the RAC (Taiwan OTC: 2237.TWO - news) highlighted a £10 increase over 12 months in the cost of filling an average tank with diesel.

Consumer price inflation already stands at a two-year high.

The group's plans to launch another 22 Jamie's Italian restaurants overseas are going ahead.

The celebrity chef and food campaigner has a net worth of $400m (£323m), according to the latest Sunday Times Rich List.