Ed Loftus, global restaurant group director for the Jamie Oliver Group, tells Restaurant the group expects to have a total of 90 sites open globally by the end of the year, building on its current portfolio of c.72 sites, with a further 25 to 30 restaurants set to launch next year.
“We have a robust plan to get the group to 200-plus sites by 2027 and that’s our focus,” he says. “We think we can definitely deliver on that. And that might feel like a lot, but dispersed across the globe it feels achievable.”
The group is preparing to make its highly anticipated return to the London restaurant scene later this year with the launch of Jamie Oliver Catherine Street in Covent Garden, which will mark the TV chef’s first opening on British shores since the collapse of his UK restaurant business back in 2019.
In the intervening years, Oliver’s group has focused on expanding its global reach. The business currently operates across 24 markets worldwide, with the majority of its sites run under franchise.
Following on from the announcement back in February that it had signed its first franchise partner in Berlin, Loftus confirms that the group will open its first site in the German capital later this year under the Jamie Oliver Kitchen brand.
In total, the group has a portfolio of eight franchise formats, which include Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria, Jamie’s Deli, Chequer Lane, Jamie Oliver’s Diner, Jamie’s Italian, Barbecoa, and the Jamie Oliver Cookery School.
As well as the expansion into Germany, the group has recently signed its first franchise partner for the Balkans region and is also exploring opportunities to take the group to Spain and Poland.
Breaking into the US
Beyond that, Loftus says the group is also hoping to establish its first sites in the US in the next few years.
“We have a European focus at the moment, and we want to build up some density in the key markets there, but the US is something we’re looking at.
“We’re growing with our existing partners and bringing new ones on board. It’s exciting.
“The strength of the Jamie Oliver brand is awesome; people resonate with what he’s about and we’re very fortunate.”
Alongside the Catherine Street opening, Oliver has hinted at the prospect of opening a restaurant and bakery within his Essex mansion house, Spains Hall, in the future; and the group’s chief executive, Kevin Styles, also teased the possibility of further UK restaurants recently in an interview with The Times.
Loftus, however, remains coy about the potential further expansion within the UK.
“Catherine Street is very much a one-off,” he says. “We want to create a flagship and anchor for the business that represents Jamie’s philosophy. That, coupled with the international business, is our key focuses at the moment.”
A return to London
Located within a Grade 1 listed site next to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the new London restaurant will open in November and have space for 130 covers inside alongside a 30-seat terrace.
Heading up the kitchen will be head chef Chris Shail, who previously worked alongside Oliver for eight years, along with pastry chef Emma Jackson, who has worked at Soho Farmhouse and Petersham Nurseries.
“Since 2019 we’ve been focused on the international business. We’d thought about coming back to the UK, but until this site presented itself, we hadn’t really gone out looking and weren’t in that mindset,” says Loftus.
“When it surfaced, though, it was a unique opportunity for us that just felt right.
“Jamie gravitated towards the site, and it didn’t take a huge amount of thinking to realise it was the right decision for us as a group.”
The restaurant will take inspiration from the dishes Oliver used to cook while working in his parent’s pub when he was growing up, as well as his time at The River Café and his non-profit restaurant Fifteen London, which closed as part of the UK group’s collapse.
“We want [Catherine Street] to be a very special place, but at the same time we want it to be super accessible,” adds Loftus.
“We’re not trying to compete in the mid-market; and we haven’t gone into a huge, cavernous restaurant – it’s more intimate. It feels special.
“Before the group was focused on growth in the UK, but this is more about creating a one-off celebratory restaurant that brings to life Jamie’s roots.”
Restaurant will publish a wider feature on the opening of Jamie Oliver Catherine Street next month.