Tuesday 23 July 2019

Bakery back on rise after five arrests on fraud rap

Stock image
Stock image
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

The Irish private equity firm which rescued struggling bakery chain Patisserie Valerie, has distanced itself from reports that five people have been arrested and questioned over alleged accounting fraud at the chain.

Earlier this year Causeway Capital rescued the group when it was put up for sale after collapsing in the wake of the discovery of alleged fraudulent activity in its accounts.

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

The move safeguarded nearly 2,000 jobs.

The UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) made the five arrests last Tuesday, according to reports.

Matt Scaife, an executive at Causeway Capital, said: "We have nothing to say in relation to the story in [the] Sunday Times which relates 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."

"We are committed to restoring the business to long-term sustainable growth by focusing on three simple values: quality, creativity and, crucially, integrity."

"This should mean the matters highlighted in [the] Sunday Times - which relate to a small number of people - can never again threaten the future of such a well loved brand and important employer," he added.

Luke Johnson, Patisserie Valerie's former chairman and a columnist for The Sunday Times, was not among those arrested, said the newspaper.

Mr Johnson had previously described the discovery of fraud at the high street cake chain as being like entering a "nightmare parallel universe".

The cake firm's parent company, Patisserie Holdings, has been grappling with the fallout of the alleged accounting fraud since October.

An SFO spokesman, who did not say who had been arrested or on what charges, said: "On Tuesday June 18, as part of a joint operation with Hertfordshire, Leicestershire and the Metropolitan police services, five individuals were arrested and interviewed in connection with the Serious Fraud Office investigation into individuals associated with Patisserie Holdings."

Earlier this month Mr Scaife told BBC Radio4 that Causeway Capital expects to more than triple the chain's online sales to £10m (€11.1m) in the next two years.

He said the group will probably run between 100 and 150 outlets. It currently has 96, including two in Ireland.

Causeway Capital was founded in 2015 by investors including Helix Health founder David Raethorne.

Additional reporting PA

Irish Independent

Also in Business