‘Busi­ness as nor­mal’ as Patis­serie Va­lerie saved

Western Mail - - UK & WORLD NEWS -

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.

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