LONDON • Gordon Ramsay has been through Hell's Kitchen, but his restaurant empire has escaped the heat and is back in the black, despite tough conditions in the industry.
The celebrity chef's company made a pre-tax profit of £500,000 (S$867,000) in the year to August 2018. It had incurred a £3.8 million loss in the previous year when it was hit by a hefty legal bill and a five-month closure of its Plane Food venture - for a makeover - at Heathrow's Terminal 5.
The group, which previously made a profit only in one year since 2012, hailed a "strong performance", with a 4.3 per cent rise in sales to £53.6 million. The revival of the business comes amid difficult times for restaurateurs.
Fellow celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's restaurant business fell into administration recently, closing all but three of its 25 outlets. It lead to about 1,000 workers losing their jobs. Chains including Carluccio's and Gaucho's Cau have also been forced to close outlets.
Ramsay, who became a household name through shows such as Hell's Kitchen and Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, said he planned to expand Street Pizza, his new "bottomless pizza" concept, outside London this year despite "much-maligned market conditions".
The group currently has 15 restaurants in London, including Petrus, Bread Street Kitchen and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, as well as 23 overseas outlets.
Ramsay's Maze restaurant in London Marriott hotel in Grosvenor Square closed in January after 14 years and is being replaced by new venture Lucky Cat which opens next month. Lucky Cat has taken 3,000 reservations since opening bookings on May 23, and will include a late bar and two chefs' tables in the kitchen alongside the main restaurant.
The company said it had also invested significantly in its digital promotion strategy, gaining 1.3 million of its own social followers on top of Ramsay's personal following of 20 million and 10 million subscribers on his YouTube channel.
Ramsay said: "Guests do not just expect a good plate of food. We are relentless with food quality. We have to understand our guests, what they want... and we have to head there with them or be left behind."