Fraudulent finance fears hit Patisserie Valerie ahead of Barons Quay opening

Patisserie Holdings had a market value this week of almost 450 million pounds. Pic Patisserie Valerie

Just prior to that, the board said it had been "notified of significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities and therefore a potential material mis-statement of the company's accounts".

Marsh, one of two directors at Stonebeach, signed off on the subsidiary's latest accounts for the year to the end of September 2017, which showed it had about 17 million pounds in cash at the bank and in hand.

It further disclosed that it had just learned of a winding-up petition that had been filed against its main subsidiary relating to more than £1m owed to the United Kingdom tax office.

Earlier on Wednesday, its shares were suspended following the discovery of an accounting blackhole.

The company said on Thursday that investigations over the last 24 hours had prompted it to conclude that there was "a material shortfall between the reported financial status of the business and the current financial status of the business".

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The company, which operates from over 200 stores across the United Kingdom, requested its shares be suspended from trading on AIM in London while it conducts an investigation into its "true financial position".

The winding up hearing is scheduled for October 31 and Patisserie Holdings said it is in communication with HMRC.

The story was first highlighted by Sky News yesterday, which reported the group had found a "multi-million pound black hole" in its accounts. "We are determined to understand the full details of what has happened".

Luke Johnson, who invested in Patisserie Valerie in 2006, is a serial entrepreneur who is best known for taking control of Pizza Express in 1993 before selling out in 1999.

Patisserie Valerie trades from more than 200 stores, including one at Resorts World Birmingham at the NEC, and also has a partnership with Sainsbury's, with branded counters present in the supermarket. Revenue climbed 9.1 per cent to £60.5 million, it said at the time.

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