Pier owner Luke Johnson fights to save Patisserie Valerie

Galtero Lara
Octubre 15, 2018

The woes of Patisserie Holdings, which only past year the tycoon had described as "just about my most successful venture", are threatening to wipe out the majority of his £165 million stake in the business and to call into question his ability to do deals - the raison d'être of private equity.

Image: Patisserie Holdings had a market value this week of nearly 450 million pounds before trading in its shares was suspended.

Its dash for cash was continuing apace on Friday morning as Patisserie Holdings confirmed Mr Marsh had been arrested and bailed.

It had been feared that the company could go into administration as soon as this week, with advisers at PwC thought to be on standby for a collapse.

Earlier this week, the firm's finance chief, Chris Marsh, was suspended from the group after the bakery chain uncovered "significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities".

"He has been released under investigation".

The probe is being led by the U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office, a spokeswoman for the Hertfordshire Constabulary said in an email Friday.

It has also been earmarked for "general working capital purposes and committed capital expenditure", Patisserie Holdings said.

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The arrest was followed by the closure of some shops on Friday.

"The company will repay the amount of the bridging loan drawn down in full immediately upon receipt of the placing proceeds".

Landlords for at least two Patisserie Valerie locations in London - in Hammersmith and Edgeware Road - cancelled their lease agreements with the company over breach of contract.

The accounting crisis put thousands of jobs at risk, with Patisserie Valerie admitting on Wednesday that the gap in its accounts had "significantly impacted the company's cash position and may lead to a material change in its overall financial position".

Mr Marsh was suspended from his role while the circumstances of the financial black hole were examined internally.

It also emerged that HMRC has filed a winding-up petition against Stonebeach Limited, the company's principal trading subsidiary, over a £1.14m tax bill.

Patisserie Holdings - which owns additional brands like Druckers, Philpotts, Baker & Spice - trades from more than 200 stores, including three in the north and also has a partnership with Sainsbury's, with branded counters present in the supermarket.

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