Selling a range of cakes, pastries and light bites, Patisserie Valerie trades from more than 200 outlets, two of which are in Liverpool city centre – at Metquarter and inside Debenhams. Tony McDonough reports
Upmarket cafe chain Patisserie Valerie, which operates two outlets in Liverpool city centre, has been plunged into crisis after discovering a reported £20m black hole in its accounts.
And in a second blow the company which is almost a century old, also faces winding up order on its principal trading subsidiary Stonebeach over a £1.14m tax bill. The company has suspended its shares on the London Stock Exchange.
Selling a range of cakes, pastries and light bites, Patisserie Valerie trades from more than 200 outlets across the UK. It has two in Liverpool employing dozens of people – its first was at the Metquarter in Whitechapel, and last year it opened a second cafe inside Debenhams at Liverpool One.
In August it also opened its first outlet in Warrington within the Golden Square Shopping Centre.
Earlier this week Patisserie Holdings suspended trading on its shares after reporting “significant and potentially fraudulent” accounting irregularities with Sky News claiming the hole in the company’s accounts could amount to more than £20m.
The company’s chief financial officer, Chris Marsh, has been suspended from his role although at this stage there has been no accusation of any wrongdoing.
Patisserie Valerie’s chairman and biggest shareholder, Luke Johnson, said: “We are all deeply concerned about this news and the potential impact on the business. We are determined to understand the full details of what has happened and will communicate these to investors and stakeholders as soon as possible.”
And in a statement on the HMRC tax demand on Stonebeach, the company added: “The company continues to engage with its professional advisers to understand better the financial position of the group and will make further announcements in due course.”
The group is currently valued at around £450m and its last full-year results, for the 12 months to September 30 last year, it reported a pre-tax profit of £20.2m from revenues of £114.2m.