Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has bitten back at claims that CEO Paul Hunt is a “bully” who is “destroying his business empire”.
In an article published in The Times a source said Oliver’s brother-in-law Hunt, who was appointed to run Jamie Oliver Ltd in 2014, was “an arrogant, incompetent failure” who “knows virtually nothing about restaurants and even less about publishing”.
“He’s running the business into the ground and the day he resigns the staff should have a big party,” the source told the paper, continuing, “everyone at the business adores Jamie and they are very sad about what has happened, but morale is at rock bottom.”
Posting on Facebook, Oliver denied the claims and said Hunt had “radically transformed the business for the better” adding “I’m incredibly grateful for what’s been achieved in a fairly short time.”
The post stated: “There has been some negative press coverage with so-called friends of mine saying nasty, untrue things about Paul Hunt, who is the CEO of my business. First, let me say that the story is nonsense and I absolutely refute the picture they paint of Paul and my business. I’ve known Paul for years both as a loyal brother-in-law and loving father as well as a strong and capable CEO who I charged with re-shaping the business.”
In February, Jamie’s Italian accepted a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) and announced the closure of 12 sites around the UK leaving 25.
Last week it emerged that Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa brand collapsed last month owing £6.7m to creditors. Barbecoa employed 166 members of staff at the point of going into administration and has since made 78 redundant.
Jamie Oliver restaurant group has 52 sites internationally – Jamie’s Italian, Jamie’s Deli, Jamie’s Diner and Jamie’s Pizzeria, which most recently opened in Budapest.