Sunday 8 January 2017

Fake News: Jamie Oliver blames closure of under-performing restaurants on Brexit

TV chef Jamie Oliver has announced he is closing 4 of his Italian restaurants and blamed Brexit for the closure.

If you smell a rat it's not the two for one Sunday lunch special. He has 42 Italian restaurants in the UK but these 6 restaurants combined represent less than 5% of the turnover for all the UK restaurants. This suggests that they're turning over about half the average for the rest of them. This is against a backdrop of declining turnover across the group since 2013 which Oliver previously blamed on tough competition from high street chains.

Oliver is blaming the weak pound against the €uro - a result of uncertainty caused by the British government's lack of preparations for Brexit rather than Brexit itself - for making the restaurants unprofitable. He says that importing Parmesan and olive oil from Italy is getting too expensive as a result but what's this?

The Telegraph reported back in February last year that drought and disease in the olive oil producing countries of southern Europe have decimated crops and pushed up prices by 20%.

But what about Parmesan? Parmesan is so expensive that it held by some Italian banks as collateral and the Italian Mafia are stealing millions of pounds worth of it every year. It's always been expensive but this wholesale theft - estimated at 4% of total production - is pushing up prices.

So the real story behind the fake news is that 6 of Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurants are under-performing and the price increases he's blaming on Brexit have more to do with the result of organised crime and poor crops in Italy and Spain than the weak pound.