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