Last updated Tuesday, March 28, 2017 8:15 am GMT+8

Friday January 6, 2017
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Jamie Oliver will close six of his Italian restaurants in the UK after Brexit pushed up costs. — AFP picJamie Oliver will close six of his Italian restaurants in the UK after Brexit pushed up costs. — AFP picLONDON, Jan 6 — UK celebrity chef and healthy-food campaigner Jamie Oliver plans to close six of his Italian restaurants around Britain after the pound’s Brexit-induced weakness pushed up costs at eateries that already weren’t serving enough people.

Restaurants in Aberdeen, Exeter, Cheltenham, Richmond, Tunbridge Wells and London’s Ludgate Hill will shut in the first quarter, a spokeswoman said by e-mail.

The announcement is the latest sign of the pressures being exerted on businesses by the pound’s drop since June’s Brexit vote. Increased costs for sourcing products such as Italian olive oil have made the branches “quite unsustainable,” the spokeswoman said.

“As every restaurant owner knows, this is a tough market, and post-Brexit the pressures and unknowns have made it even harder,” Chief Executive Officer Simon Blagden said in a statement.

The outlets being closed represent less than 5 per cent of the chain’s sales and staff. The company said it will seek to find alternative positions for the 120 employees affected.

Oliver still plans to open another 22 Italian restaurants outside the UK this year, adding to locations in countries including Australia, Brazil and Russia. He will also add two new Barbecoa steakhouses in Britain.

The business is in “very good shape” overall, finishing last year with like-for-like sales growth and an increase in the number of diners, Blagden said. — Bloomberg

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