Patisserie Valerie’s new owners focus on profitable outlets with 14 more closures

Patisserie Valerie

The private equity firm that rescued Patisserie Valerie from administration is closing another 14 cafés, with up to 100 job losses expected.

Causeway Capital, which acquired the brand together with 96 branches from administrators at KPMG in February, said that it had taken the “difficult decision” to put up the shutters after a detailed review of the estate.

When it bought the business from the ashes of the quoted Patisserie Holdings group, KPMG had already closed 71 loss-making sites under the Patisserie Valerie and Druckers brands, with 920 redundancies.

Patisserie Holdings, which was founded in 1926, was acquired by Luke Johnson, the serial investor, in 2006 and he floated it in 2014. However, the company collapsed in January when it was unable to secure new bank finance after the discovery last October of “significant and potentially fraudulent accounting irregularities” that left a £94 million gap in its finances.

Chris Marsh, 44, who was its finance chief, was arrested. He was released on bail and remains the subject of a Serious Fraud Office investigation. Last month, five more people who have not been named were arrested and questioned by police.

According to Propel, the industry publication, the 14 stores added to the casualty list this week include the Patisserie Valerie branches in Leicester’s Highcross shopping centre and in Chichester, West Sussex.

A poster on the front of the cafés reads: “Dear valued customer, we are sorry to confirm that this patisserie has now permanently closed. We would like to take this opportunity to thank both our loyal customers and the team that ran the patisserie for their dedication and hard work.”

Causeway Capital said: “Patisserie Valerie has today confirmed it has closed 14 of its smaller patisseries. The difficult decision was reached following a detailed review of the size, trading performance and location of each store over the past five months.”

It said that the remaining 75 branches represented the larger, best-performing outlets.

Last week, the chain launched a new summer menu and a redesigned range of patisserie and cakes, including strawberry gateau, Black Forest chocolate sponge, baked cheesecake and mille-feuille. After complaints by customers, it has restored the use of butter in its products. It also has introduced a new all-day brunch menu that includes smashed avocado on bloomer toast, eggs benedict and a vegan breakfast. The lunch to dinner menu includes dishes such as croque monsieur and salads.

Commenting on the latest arrests, Matt Scaife, a partner at Causeway Capital, said that they related “to the period prior to our ownership and which, as far as we are aware, does not relate to any current employees of Patisserie Valerie”.