FOUL-mouthed British TV chef Gordon Ramsay has been forced to overhaul his Melbourne restaurant after heavy financial losses in its early months and the departure of key staff.
General manager Enda Cunningham, head chef Josh Emett and financial controller Geoff Petersen recently left maze Melbourne, his showpiece at Crown’s Metropol Hotel.
In an email seen by the Herald Sun, allegedly written by Mr Petersen, it is claimed the business lost more than $2 million since it opened in a blaze of publicity in May last year.
Ramsay’s representatives did not deny the existence of the email. They confirmed the hyped $20 million venture suffered start-up losses, but said the $2 million figure was wrong and the operation was back on track.
The restaurant has experienced a major shake-up in the past month, involving staff departures and a restructure of directors.
Sarah Armstrong, sole Australian director of Gordon Ramsay Melbourne, resigned as company secretary and director following a Melbourne visit by the new chief executive of Gordon Ramsay Holdings, Geoff Eades.
A spokeswoman for Ramsay said: “Maze Melbourne is profitable. It is entirely usual for any business to incur start-up losses, but we are happy with the progress made, the performance of the restaurant and we have every confidence in its future success.”
She downplayed the departure of key staff, including Emett – part of the Ramsay empire for 10 years, but now looking to start his own business. But insiders say Emett and Cunningham left due to cost-cutting.
A Crown spokeswoman said there were no “issues” concerning Gordon Ramsay or maze, adding: “It is a brilliant performer.”
Ramsay has not been near the restaurant since its high-profile opening at which he was feted by Crown owner James Packer, then premier John Brumby and cricketer Shane Warne. He plans to visit maze in winter.
Ramsay’s global restaurant empire has been beset by financial woes due to rapid over-expansion.
His father-in-law, Chris Hutcheson, who claims he was sacked as CEO of the holding company in October, said Ramsay was too obsessed with his media career to focus on business. Ramsay had never asked about maze Melbourne.
Hutcheson, 62, indicated Maze Melbourne was facing financial problems when he stepped down as CEO of Gordon Ramsay Holdings last October.
He alleged he was sacked just as he had secured potential investors and a new bank for the Australian business.
Hutcheson also claimed at the time the restaurant’s future was left hanging with Ramsay too obsessed with his media career to pay attention to operations of his businesses.
“We have a big operation in Melbourne, Australia,” Hutcheson said at the time.
“From the day we opened in April, Gordon never asked once how it was going. A $20 million operation.
“He would ring the chef up but he had no interest in the business whatsoever.
“I found him a new bank, new possible investors. We were making good money.”
Maze is also just one of Ramsay’s global stable of 10 restaurants and pubs spread across Britain, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Tuscany, Sardinia, Qatar, Dubai and Tokyo.
Hutcheson and Ramsay were forced in 2009 to each inject $8 million of their own savings into the London-based Gordon Ramsay Holdings to keep the international company afloat.
Herald Sun 1st April