British celebrity chef, restaurateur, and media personality Jamie Oliver has appointed bankers to sell a stake worth £50 million ($76 million) in the Jamie Oliver Group, his media and publishing business, according to reports.
A Jamie Oliver Group spokesman told Sky News:
“Like any well run private company, we regularly review our funding policy and requirements. All options, including bringing on board an external investor, are considered in order to position the group to take best advantage of the clear market opportunities that lie ahead.”
Mr. Oliver has appointed The Raine Group, an American merchant bank, to manage the sale, which would not include the Jamie’s Italian chain and restaurant business.
Jamie Oliver was born and raised in the village of Clavering, Essex, England. His parents run a pub/restaurant, The Cricketers, where Oliver used to practise cooking in the kitchen. (Image: jamieoliver.com)
Bidders will likely include wealthy individuals from around the world, media groups and private equity firms.
Mr. Oliver is said to be planning to expand his cookery empire, which started off when the BBC noticed him in 1997 after making an unscripted appearance in a documentary about a restaurant.
His BBC show The Naked Cheff debuted in 1999 and was a great success. In that same year his cookbook became a No. 1 bestseller in the UK. Also in 1999, Prime Minister Tony Blair invited him to 10 Downing Street to prepare lunch.
Mr. Oliver’s company had a disappointing year. Profits in 2013 declined by 37% compared to the previous year, to £6.2 million, while revenue fell 7% to £32 million. Financial statements for 2014 are not yet publicly available.
According to 2014’s Sunday Times Rich List, Jamie Oliver is worth ₤240 million ($365 million). His latest video venture called FoodTube currently has over one million subscribers.
Jamie Oliver and supermarkets
At the turn of the millennium, and for several years after that, Mr. Oliver was the public face of British supermarket Sainsbury’s, appearing on radio and TV ads and in-store promotional material. He is estimated to have earned £1.2 million annually on that contract.
Within four years he had made 64 ads with Sainsbury’s. However, this arrangement was not without controversy. Mr. Oliver criticized supermarkets, saying “For any chef, supermarkets are like a factory. I buy from specialist growers, organic suppliers and farmers.”
Sainbury’s CEO Justin King was not pleased when Mr. Oliver slated supermarkets for the “junk” they sold that ended up in the lunchboxes of millions of kids. Mr. King reportedly said “Dictating to people – or unleashing an expletive-filled tirade – is not the way to get engagement.”