Incompetent BULLY behind Jamie Oliver’s BUSINESS COLLAPSE
The man behind Jamie Oliver’s food empire is arrogant, plagued by failure and has a problem working with strong women, sources close to the celebrity chef said before his food group went into administration today.
The celebrity cook’s brother-in-law, Paul Hunt, is said to have given a PA her own redundancy letter to type before she even knew she’d be out of a job.
Married to Oliver’s sister Anna-Marie, he was appointed to run Jamie Oliver Ltd in 2014 and is still listed as a director at the failing brand.
In the same year he became a director of the Jamie’s Italian chain and today it emerged than more than 1,000 of its restaurant staff are set to lose their jobs.
Mr Hunt was one of five directors at Jamie’s Italian Ltd in its last available accounts, despite the brand losing £30million in that same year.
The 2017 accounts revealed directors enjoyed an average of £140,000 in salaries and bonuses.
But Mr Hunt has been described as a bully who made workers redundant on the spot one Christmas Eve and barked ‘tea, tea’ at a ‘lovely PA’ in her 50s when he wanted a drink.
‘Paul Hunt is an arrogant, incompetent failure,’ a source close to the TV chef told The Times in March last year.
‘He knows virtually nothing about restaurants and even less about publishing…the day he resigns the staff should have a big party.’
The source claimed Hunt has a ‘problem’ working with strong women and that his presence left staff ‘desperate to leave’.
She said that the PA he screamed at when he wanted tea found out she was losing her job when he told her type up a set of redundancies and she was on the list.
Morale at the company is said to have become disastrously low after Mr Hunt, 54, was chosen to head up the culinary enterprise and introduced cost-saving measures.
A female executive who recently left the company described Hunt as ‘testosterone central’ and ‘a City boy from central casting’ with a Mahogany suntan.
And she said that he appeared pleased when she handed in her resignation. Another source described him simply as useless and questioned his rising pay amid his failures.
One former employee said: ‘He’s always been more focused on cost-cutting than quality. He’s not tried to re-brand or do anything different.’
He previously worked for LIFFE futures and options exchange and was fined £60,000 in 1999 for insider trading while working as lead trader at Refco Overseas – the London arm of a US futures broker. Hunt was banned from trading for a year.
But as his brand’s former workers raged at the alleged incompetency on display, the TV chef hit out at critics on Twitter.
‘For the last 14 years, Paul has been deemed as fit and proper to be the sole director of a Financial Conduct Authority licensed company, before becoming CEO of Jamie Oliver Group in July last year,’ he said last year.
He dismissed ‘nasty’ claims that his brother-in-law and CEO of his business was a ‘bully’ who was destroying his empire.
‘First, let me say that the story is nonsense and I absolutely refute the picture they paint of Paul and my business,’ he said.
‘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.
‘He has radically transformed our business for the better it’s now more successful, vibrant and creative than ever and now we able to focus on doing the same in our UK restaurant business. I’m incredibly grateful for what’s been achieved in a fairly short time.’
Some sacked staff said that they were told to leave the premises mid-shift and were given no notice.
The Notting Hill branch of Recipease had Christmas Eve 2015 as its last day of trading.
One member of staff said: ‘Everyone here feels let down, particularly those like me who have worked a long time for Jamie and put everything into this shop. Christmas is the worst time to lose your job. The management have been ruthless.’