Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, the operator of the Jamie’s Italian and Barbecoa brands, has brought in an external advisor to work with its new management team to help steer it through its next phase, MCA has learnt.

It is understood that the group, which earlier this month parted company with long-time chief executive Simon Blagden, is in the early stages of working with AlixPartners on its strategy for further developing its business in the UK and internationally.

A spokesperson for the company told MCA: “As trading conditions for restaurants on the UK high street remain tough, we have taken additional steps to support the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group over the coming months.

“Our first step was to bring in new management and Jon Knight is now heading up the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group. Jon has successfully managed our international business, opening 18 restaurants in this year alone, and with an exciting pipeline of partnerships secured for 2018 and onwards.

“Additionally, we’ve appointed an external consultant to work with Jon, Holdings Group chief executive Paul Hunt and Jamie Oliver to steer the business through the next phase and ensure we continue to build on our strong and much loved restaurant brand. We have an exciting future ahead of us and we’re confident these measures will help ensure we have the right structure and strategy to fully maximise all opportunities.”

It was revealed earlier this month, that after a £10.9m hit from closing six sites at the start of this year, Jamie’s Italian slumped from a full-year pre-tax profit of £2.4m to a loss of £9.9m.

Blagden stepped down as chief executive of Jamie Oliver’s restaurant empire, after nearly 10 years with the business.

His role had been called into question earlier this month, when it was announced that Jamie’s Italian was to be brought under the same management as that of Jamie Oliver Holdings, the chef’s television and book publishing business, at a new corporate headquarters on Holloway Road in north London.

The appointment of advisors comes as the company is set to close its site in Gunwharf Quay, Portsmouth.

A spokesperson said: “The landlord has decided to split the space we occupy into four separate retail units. The closure is is no way a reflection on the dedication and commitment of our staff and we will be looking to secure as many of those affected as possible with alternative jobs within the restaurant group estate.”