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Patisserie Valerie owner suspends shares amid fraud probe

By Simon Penfold | Business | Published:

The owner of Birmingham-based cake shop chain Patisserie Valerie has suspended its shares after the discovery of potentially fraudulent accounting.

Patisserie Valerie in Wolverhampton

Patisserie Holdings said it has been notified of “significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities and therefore a potential material mis-statement of the company’s accounts”.

As a result, this has significantly affected the company’s cash position and may lead to a ‘material change’ in its overall financial position.

There are reports that the black hole in Patisserie Valerie’s accounts could exceed £20 million.

Patisserie Valerie trades from more than 200 stores – including outlets in Wolverhampton, Telford, Shrewsbury and Resorts World in Birmingham – and also has a partnership with Sainsbury’s, with branded counters present in the supermarket.

Patisserie, based in Hall Green, said it had asked that its shares be suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange’s junior AIM market while it carries out a full investigation into its true financial position.

Finance chief Chris Marsh has also been suspended from his role.

Chairman 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.”

Mr Johnson is Patisserie Holdings’ largest shareholder with a 37 per cent stake.

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In an update yesterday afternoon the company said its directors had just learned of a winding up petition filed in September regarding its principal trading subsidiary, Stonebeach, relating to £1.14m owed to HMRC.

In the statement, it said: "The company and its advisors are in communication with HMRC with the objective of addressing the petition.

"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."

In May, the firm reported a 14.2 per cent rise in pre-tax profit for the six months ended March 31, to £11.1m as revenue rose 9.1 per cent to £60.5m.

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Mr Johnson is Patisserie Holdings' largest shareholder with a 37 per cent stake.

In May, the firm reported a 14.2 per cent rise in pre-tax profit for the six months ended March 31, up from £9.7 million to £11.1 million.

Revenue climbed 9.1 per cent to £60.5 million, it said at the time.

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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