3,000 j obs are saved at Patisserie Valerie
Chairman loans emergency £20m
NEARLY 3,000 jobs at crisis-hit cake chain Patisserie Valerie have been saved after a last-gasp rescue.
Chairman Luke Johnson, best known for turning around Pizza Express, has agreed to loan the firm £20million.
Shareholders have also been asked to stump up £15million, at which time he is set to get back half the loan.
The deal came as the chain teetered on collapse.
The firm has been plunged into turmoil by an accounting scandal.
Patisserie Holdings, the parent company, earlier revealed finance chief Chris Marsh had been arrested and bailed.
He had already been suspended after the board was told on Tuesday about
“significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities”.
It emerged HM Revenue & Customs had launched a “winding-up” petition to recover £1.14million. It appears board members did not know.
The company admitted yesterday that without the £20million it would have collapsed into administration. It was also forced to rapidly revise the state of its finances after an initial investigation. Debts were worse than thought, at nearly £10million. It expects annual profits to more than half to £12million. Patisserie Holdings said after the deal it “will be able to continue trading in its current form for the foreseeable future”. The move will relieve nearly 3,000 staff, who had thought the business was worth almost £500million. As well as Patisserie Valerie stores, it has 60 counters in Sainsbury’s and owns Druckers and Flour Power City Bakery. Mr Johnson, who is the biggest shareholder with 37%, was worth £260million before the share price was suspended. Mr Marsh, 44, is credited, with Mr Johnson, for transforming the chain from eight shops 12 years ago. It emerged he made £700,000 by selling shares three months ago.
The probe is being led by the Serious Fraud Office.
Patisserie Holdings said yesterday: “Any further findings of financial irregularity could result in further material losses.”
CRISIS The cake chain had been on brink of collapse
SAVIOUR Luke Johnson