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Patisserie Valerie admits needing 'immediate cash injection' putting stores in Maidstone, Canterbury, Ashford and Tunbridge Wells at risk

By Chris Britcher

The future of a popular chain of cafes, with four stores across the county, hangs in the balance after revealing it faces a financial management crisis, including a £1.1 million unpaid tax bill.

The board of the Patisserie Valerie chain says "without an immediate capital injection" it will be unable to continue trading "in its current form".

Branches of the cafe currently operate in Maidstone, Canterbury, Ashford and Tunbridge Wells.

Patisserie Valerie faces an uncertain future
Patisserie Valerie faces an uncertain future

Nationwide, it employs some 2,500 staff.

In a flurry of announcements, the board revealed it has just been made aware of a winding up notice issued by HM Revenue and Customs to its principal trading subsidiary Stonebeach Limited in September.

It relates to a £1.14 million tax bill. A hearing is set for the end of the month.

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".

The outlet in Fremlin Walk, Maidstone, could be at risk
The outlet in Fremlin Walk, Maidstone, could be at risk

As a consequence, its shares with suspended from trading on AIM, the Alternative Investment Market while it "conducts a full investigation with its legal and professional advisors into its true financial position".

In the meantime Chris Marsh, the firm's chief financial officer, has been suspended from his role.

Chairman Luke Johnson said: "We are all deeply concerned about this news and the potential impact on the business.

"We are determined to understand the full details of what has happened and will communicate these to investors and stakeholders as soon as possible."

Patisserie Valerie's outlet at the Ashford Designer Outlet centre
Patisserie Valerie's outlet at the Ashford Designer Outlet centre

In the 24 hours which followed, the company met with professional advisors and the board has "reached the conclusion there is a material shortfall between the reported financial status and the current financial status of the business".

It added: "Without an immediate injection of capital, the directors are of the view that that is no scope for the business to continue trading in its current form.

"As a consequence, the directors and the company's professional advisers are assessing all options available to the business to keep it trading and will update the market in due course."

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