Is there such a thing as an amicable divorce?
Yesterday Sainsbury’s announced that its 11-year romance with Jamie Oliver is drawing to a close. The kitchen wunderkind turned social campaigner, who is paid £1.2m a year to convince shoppers to taste the difference, is packing it in after Christmas to spend more time with his foundation.
The backslapping was almost deafening as Oliver and the retailer paid glowing tributes to one another. While the supermarket lauded “one of the most successful and mutually rewarding partnerships” ever seen in the sector, Oliver gushed about the “great things” they’d achieved together.
“I’ve made some great friends at Sainsbury’s and I know we’ll still be talking for years to come,” he said, sounding every inch the mature ex-boyfriend.
“The way they take on challenges – like their commitment to sourcing higher welfare products, such as chicken and eggs – is something to be proud of. I’ll miss them but it’s a good time to move on.”
While his Food Revolution didn’t quite sweep across America like the mealtime Beatlemania he might have hoped, the one-time Naked Chef still has plenty on his plate. That’s why Oliver has not been as hands-on for Sainsbury’s as he once was.
Aside from the occasional public tiff over battery chickens and what goes in the kids’ lunchboxes, Sainsbury’s is now free to pursue someone more in tune with its daily needs. Already the speculation has begun over who that might be – and you’ll be able to have your say in next week’s online poll.
On the other hand, anyone who went to last month’s Big Feastival – the latest addition to Jamie’s personal empire – will have seen the feverish passion he stirs in the loins of many food lovers. Even if Sainsbury’s cosies up with a Nigella or a Hugh, it may not be able to resist the occasional jealous glance back at its former beau.