Patis­serie Va­lerie faces clo­sure with­out im­me­di­ate cash in­jec­tion

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Oliver Gill

PATIS­SERIE Va­lerie is tee­ter­ing on the brink and needs “an im­me­di­ate in­jec­tion of cap­i­tal”, the bak­ery chain has ad­mit­ted.

If the com­pany is un­able to raise the cash, it told the mar­ket yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, there “is no scope for the busi­ness to con­tinue trad­ing in its cur­rent form”. Luke John­son, Patis­serie Va­lerie’s ex­ec­u­tive chair­man and largest share­holder, is re­port­edly tee­ing up a multi-mil­lion-pound res­cue pack­age.

The lat­est de­vel­op­ment throws into ques­tion the im­me­di­ate fu­ture of its 206 shops and 2,500 staff.

A raft of ad­vis­ers, be­lieved to in­clude foren­sic ac­coun­tants from PwC and lawyers from Os­borne Clarke, have been as­sist­ing the chain in get­ting to the bot­tom of a “po­ten­tially fraud­u­lent” ac­count­ing mis-state­ment. PwC has been put on alert to man­age the com­pany’s ad­min­is­tra­tion if res­cue fund­ing falls through.

The com­pany said: “There is a ma­te­rial short­fall be­tween the re­ported fi­nan­cial sta­tus and the cur­rent fi­nan­cial sta­tus of the busi­ness.”

Chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Chris Marsh, who has over­seen the books for 12 years, has been sus­pended. If the com­pany does col­lapse, it would wipe away a large pro­por­tion of the £260m net wealth of John­son, one of Bri­tain’s best-known leisure en­trepreneurs. The for­mer Pizza Ex­press chair­man owns around 37pc of the Patis­serie Va­lerie, a stake that was worth around £165m when shares were sus­pended on Wed­nes­day morn­ing. He is con­sid­er­ing a “sig­nif­i­cant cash in­jec­tion”, The

Times re­ported. The com­pany’s prob­lems were com­pounded after it re­vealed HM Rev­enue & Cus­toms had filed a pe­ti­tion to wind up Patis­serie Va­lerie over an un­paid bill of £1.14m.

While the out­stand­ing debt ap­peared to be small com­pared with a re­ported black hole of £20m, ex­perts warned the tax­man’s le­gal ac­tion could see the bak­ery and cof­fee chain’s bank ac­counts frozen. Oc­to­pus In­vest­ments, the com­pany’s sec­ond-largest share­holder, said that it did not have any more in­for­ma­tion than is be­ing put into the pub­lic do­main. Other large in­sti­tu­tional back­ers such as Aberdeen Stan­dard In­vest­ments and Royal Lon­don de­clined to com­ment.

It is un­der­stood that reg­u­la­tors from the Se­ri­ous Fraud Of­fice, Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­ity and Fi­nan­cial Re­port­ing Coun­cil are closely track­ing de­vel­op­ments.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.