Recession bites into TV chef Gordon Ramsay’s profits

Gordon Ramsay has become as successful on television as he has been off-screen.
Profits at celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s British restaurants plunged by nearly 90 percent in the last 12 months.

Run by the Scottish-born chef and his father-in-law Chris Hutcheson, Gordon Ramsay Holdings reported a drop in annual turnover from £41.6 million ($68 million) to £35 million ($57 million) in the year to August 2008, Britain’s Press Association reported Friday. Pre-tax profits plummeted by over £3 million ($4.9 million) to £383,325 ($627,000), while net debt in the group, which includes London restaurants such as Claridges, Maze and the flagship Royal Hospital Road, soared to almost £9.5 million ($15.5 million). With spiraling debts and crippling tax bills, the star of TV shows such as “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” and “Hell’s Kitchen” was forced to pump huge amounts of his own money into the business, even selling his prized Ferrari to raise funds, The Guardian newspaper said. Ramsay has attributed his business problems to over-ambitious expansion plans, in addition to the closure of two of his 11 London eateries. The Michelin-starred chef opened ten restaurants between 2007 and 2008, while The Savoy Grill was forced to close as the Savoy hotel was refurbished, and the lease at the Connaught expired. The 42-year old was also forced to review his company’s international operations, closing restaurants in Paris, Los Angeles and Prague, The Times newspaper reported. “Ambition overtook me. We thought we could do anything, that we couldn’t fail,” PA quoted Ramsay as saying recently. A full review of the group’s operations was instigated in December as part of a refinancing deal with the Royal Bank of Scotland and to help the business get through the troubled economic times. “2008 brought its own challenges, not just for our group, but for the industry as a whole and the broader economy,” Hutcheson told PA. “Whilst the restructuring has benefited the group, the significant contribution and commitment of all 750 staff to the business has been integral to moving us to a position of strength.” Ramsay has endured a difficult time recently. Last month he was criticized by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd after reportedly comparing television star Tracy Grimshaw to a pig during a live cooking show in Melbourne. His trademark colorful language also came under fire last year by another Australian lawmaker. However Ramsay told the country’s Channel Nine Network, which broadcasts Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen, that the shows emphasize the “pressures of working in a restaurant kitchen.”