Cafe chain’s fi­nance chief held over £20m ‘black hole’


But on Thurs­day, Patis­serie Hold­ings said it had found “a ma­te­rial short­fall be­tween the re­ported fi­nan­cial sta­tus and the cur­rent fi­nan­cial sta­tus of the busi­ness”.

Mr Marsh, who pre­vi­ously worked at ac­count­ing gi­ant EY, was made fi­nance di­rec­tor of Patis­serie Va­lerie in 2006.

Patis­serie Hold­ings said it had been no­ti­fied of “sig­nif­i­cant and po­ten­tially fraud­u­lent ac­count­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and there­fore a po­ten­tial ma­te­rial mis­state­ment of the com­pany’s accounts”.

It said this had sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected its cash po­si­tion and could lead to a “ma­te­rial change” in its over­all fi­nan­cial po­si­tion.

More than a third of the firm is owned by en­tre­pre­neur Luke John­son, a former Chan­nel 4 chair­man who made his name when he took over Pizza Ex­press in 1993. He sold the busi­ness six years later.

Patis­serie Hold­ings also said its prin­ci­pal sub­sidiary Stonebeach had been hit by a wind­ing up order from Her Majesty’s Rev­enue and Cus­toms over £1.14mil­lion in un­paid tax.

Mean­while two Patis­serie Va­lerie branches in Lon­don – Ham­mer­smith and Edg­ware Road – were closed.

The Fi­nan­cial Re­port­ing Coun­cil said: “We are look­ing into this mat­ter care­fully and will give full con­sid­er­a­tion to fur­ther ac­tion as more facts be­come avail­able.” TEE­TER­ING on the brink of col­lapse, Patis­serie Va­lerie is the lat­est in a spate of re­tail fail­ures to blight Bri­tain’s high streets.

Soar­ing costs, fall­ing de­mand and lack of con­sumer con­fi­dence have claimed some big names this year.

The fash­ion chain Coast went off the rails on Thurs­day with the clo­sure of 24 stores putting at least 300 jobs at risk.

Maplin, the elec­tri­cal firm, closed 217 stores with the loss of 2,300 jobs in Fe­bru­ary when Toys R Us also col­lapsed lead­ing to the clo­sure of 100 stores leav­ing 2,500 peo­ple out of work.

An­other ma­jor high street ca­su­alty was debt-rid­den House of Fraser which went into ad­min­is­tra­tion in the sum­mer.

Mike Ash­ley, of Sport Di­rect fame, snapped up the de­part­ment store chain for £90mil­lion in Au­gust. He has vowed to turn House of Fraser into the Har­rods of the high street.

Re­tail­ers tra­di­tion­ally look for­ward to the Christ­mas shop­ping spree to shore up their fi­nances.

But an­a­lysts say high street foot­fall is go­ing down at an alarm­ing rate.

So­phie Michael, of the busi­ness ad­vi­sory firm BDO, said: “Some­how that de­cline in foot­fall needs to be re­versed.”

A Patis­serie Va­lerie cafe in Lon­don, left, and above, Luke John­son, who owns more than a third of firm

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