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Jamie’s Italian: tracking the rise and fall

Dr Nick Baker Chief Research Officer 24/05/2019

As Jamie's Italian looks set to close its doors throughout the country, we've been digging into the data – picking out the warning signs that heralded the collapse of a household name.

‘Cut-throat’, ‘Ruthless’, ‘Relentless’: these are just some of the words used to describe the UK’s casual dining market in the week which saw Jamie Oliver’s restaurant empire collapse into administration. The news, as shocking as it is sad, will see up to 1,000 jobs at risk following imminent closures to a number of restaurants up and down the country.

Positive buzz for Jamie’s Italian has steadily declined over the last 2 years."

Unfortunately for the eating out sector, this week’s announcement follows a series of negative headlines impacting other well-known restaurant chains. The tough operating environment has shaken the foundations of a number of brands through site closures and CVAs. In the case of Jamie’s, sadly, it looks like this is the end of the road.

Which begs the question, what went wrong? Why is Jamie’s Italian closing?

Clearly, there is a multitude of factors contributing to the demise. Some of the challenges faced by operators – such as rising business rates, labour costs and fragile consumer confidence – impact everyone and can explain part of the story.

But equally, there are other factors such as the performance of the brand and the way it is viewed by the public, which can also play a pivotal role. Effective monitoring of a brand’s performance allows operators to identify areas of strength and weakness and react accordingly.

Jamie’s Italian: By The Numbers

Data from the BrandVue Eating Out daily survey, tracking perceptions in the eating out sector, highlights a gradual weakening of the Jamie Oliver restaurant brand in recent years. Proxies used to indicate brand performance can vary depending on preference, however some are more closely aligned with financial performance than others. Here are two important measures restaurant operators should monitor closely:

1. Positive buzz

Positive buzz – the % of people who have heard something positive about a brand in the last month – is a useful way to assess public sentiment. It is also strongly linked with financial performance. We worked with TGI Fridays to prove how positive buzz correlated with their financial performance, leading them to start their £250,000 reward programme, incentivising individual restaurants based on the “buzz” they generated.

For context, positive buzz for Jamie’s Italian has steadily declined over the last 2 years.

Jamie's Italian - Positive Buzz Graph

In 2011, Jamie’s Italian ranked first on NPS out of the 30 or so biggest eating out brands in the UK."

2. NPS

NPS, in a similar way to positive buzz, is also closely correlated with financial performance and is supported by plenty of academic research linking high scores with high growth. In the UK some of the busiest restaurant chains, such as Nando’s and Wagamama, consistently top the charts on this measure.

In the case of Jamie’s Italian, over the last 8 years we have observed a gradual decline in its NPS. Back in 2011, Jamie’s Italian ranked first on NPS out of the 30 or so biggest eating out brands in the UK. Fast forward to 2019 and – within the same competitive set – it sits towards the bottom of the pile.

This is shown in the graph below, which demonstrates Jamie’s Italian NPS ranking vs. 29 other UK casual dining brands:

Jamie's Italian NPS over time

The Digestif

For restaurant operators, the ability to monitor consumer sentiment and feeling towards their brand is clearly important. Not only does it allow you to fully understand your position in the market relative to the competition but it provides a degree of foresight to better predict performance and identify problems sooner rather than later.

Do you have a deep and full understanding of your brand health? If you or your business could benefit from knowing more then please get in touch at [email protected] or complete the form below.

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