Future of Patisserie Valerie hangs in the balance

The café chain’s operator was alerted this week to a financial hole that could have wiped out its entire £28.8 million cash balance

Shares in Brighton Pier Group, which he listed two years ago, have fallen since the crisis at Patisserie Holdings was revealed, while a mooted £150 million sale or stock market flotation of Bread Holdings, owner of the Gail's bakery chain, where...

And in a further twist to the situation this morning, the company issued a statement confirming that its finance director Chris Marsh - who was suspended earlier this week - was arrested last night and then released on bail.

Yesterday the Serious Fraud Office said it had "opened a criminal investigation into an individual".

The suspended finance chief of the company, Chris Marsh, was arrested by police overnight, just days after the discovery of potentially fraudulent accounting irregularities.

Hertfordshire Police confirmed that a 44-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation and released under investigation yesterday evening.

Johnson is considering making a "significant" cash injection if the company fails to secure funding, the Times reported Friday, without specifying where it got the information.

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

Historical statements on the cash position of the company were misstated and subject to fraudulent activity and accounting irregularities, directors said.

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Stores are still trading, although a branch in Hammersmith was shut today after a landlord terminated its lease due to non-payment of rent.

Mr Johnson, a serial entrepreneur, is the largest shareholder in Patisserie Holdings with a 37% stake.

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

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

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

The board said it had become aware of a winding up notice issued against its principal trading subsidiary Stonebeach relating to £1.14m of unpaid tax.

Patisserie Holdings also owns Druckers, Backer & Spice, Philpotts, and Flour Power City.

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