‘Business as normal’ as Patisserie Valerie saved
PATISSERIE Valerie’s chairman has said it will be “business as normal” at the cafe chain after swooping in with a rescue package that saved nearly 3,000 jobs and the company from collapse.
Luke Johnson said that while he was unlikely to open more stores in the near future, his “huge personal commitment” to the business should be enough to reassure both shareholders and employees.
“We have rescued the business,” he said in an interview following a torrid 72 hours for the company. “I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life but we’ve come through it in this week. I’ve obviously made a huge personal commitment – I think we have a good business with loyal staff, and I think of it now as back on stable footing.”
The chairman came through with a major rescue package yesterday that saw him pledge up to £20m in new loans to keep the company afloat.
The company also successfully raised more than £15m through the issue of new shares. Funds raised through the share placement will pay back around half the money loaned by Mr Johnson, as well as meeting outstanding liabilities including a major tax bill owed to HM Revenue & Customs.
While at least two London stores were shuttered by landlords over overdue rent payments, Mr Johnson said: “No stores will be taken back (by landlords). This is not the climate where landlords want retail sites back, frankly, so I’m very confident that we will be opening all our stores for business tomorrow.”
The company’s future was thrown into question last week after it uncovered fraudulent activity around its financial accounts and was served a wind-up order by the taxman over £1.14m owed to HMRC.
In a statement issued to the market yesterday afternoon, Patisserie Holdings said the loans would enable it to continue trading for the “forseeable future”. It had been feared the company could go into administration.