Business

Three Belfast Patisserie Valerie stores saved from closure

The Patisserie Valerie branch on Castle Lane is one of three Belfast outlets saved from closure

THE three Patisserie Valerie outlets in the north have been spared from a spate of store closures announced at the cake chain yesterday.

Administrators KPMG, appointed on Tuesday, have confirmed the closure of more than a third of Patisserie Valerie's retail portfolio, resulting in 920 redundancies.

In all 71 stores will close, but the company's three Belfast branches at Donegall Square, Castle Lane and Forestside Shopping Centre will remain open - saving around 60 local jobs.

The affected UK branches include 27 standalone stores, 19 Druckers outlets and 25 Patisserie Valerie concessions in Debenhams, Next and at motorway service areas. The company's bakery in Spitalfields has also closed.

A total of 122 outlets will continue to trade while the professional services firm seeks a buyer for the business.

David Costley-Wood, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said they are encouraged by the interest in the struggling business.

"We have been pleased with the level of interest we have received in the business, and so remain hopeful of achieving a positive outcome.

"In the meantime, we can reassure customers that across the remaining 122 stores, it is all but business as usual."

Prior to its collapse, the cake chain employed more than 3,000 staff.

Patisserie Valerie said on Tuesday that discussions with its lenders HSBC and Barclays to extend a standstill agreement on its debts had failed, leaving it with no option but to call in corporate undertakers.

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

It said that the extent of fraud meant it was unable to renew its bank loans and it did not have sufficient funding to continue trading.

Chairman Luke Johnson has extended an unsecured, interest-free loan to help ensure that the January wages are paid to all staff working in the ongoing business.

Last week, Patisserie revealed KPMG had been hired to carry out a review of all options following the accounting scandal which pushed it close to collapse in 2018.

It also unveiled the "devastating" extent of irregularities in its books, which included thousands of false entries into the company's ledgers.

The firm said an initial investigation pointed to cashflow and profitability being worse than previously thought when the problem was first discovered in October.

The discovery of a black hole in the company's accounts in October last year pushed it into a full blown crisis which saw it almost cease trading.

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