Patisserie Valerie was today told it faces liquidation unless it pays a £1.14million unpaid tax bill – hours after a £20million black hole was discovered in its accounts.
The cake shop and continental tea room, which has more than 200 stores in the UK, has suspended its shares and its finance chief Chris Marsh amid the chaos with its books.
Owners Patisserie Holdings revealed its financial crisis before the London Stock Exchange opened today and this afternoon said it was handed a winding up petition from HMRC.
The court hearing is scheduled for Halloween, October 31, and the high street cake and coffee shop is scrambling to ‘understand better the financial position of the group’.
If the bill remains unsettled HMRC could force the businesses to close in order to liquidate their assets and cover the costs it has been unable to pay.
Patisserie Valerie (pictured in Soho) has suspended its shares following the discovery of a £20million black hole in its accounts
Earlier the business, set up by British entrepreneur Luke Johnson, said it had been notified of ‘significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities and therefore a potential material mis-statement of the company’s accounts’.
Patisserie Valerie founder and chairman Luke Johnson revealed the potential fraud today
As a result, this has significantly affected the company’s cash position and may lead to a ‘material change’ in its overall financial position – and led to shares being suspended.
It asked that its shares be suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange’s junior AIM market while it carries out a full investigation into its true financial position.
In addition, finance chief Chris Marsh has been suspended from his role.
There was no answer when MailOnline called at his St Albans home today.
Chairman Mr 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.’
Mr Johnson is Patisserie Holdings’ largest shareholder with a 37 per cent stake.
In May, the firm reported a 14.2 per cent rise in pre-tax profit for the six months ended March 31, up from £9.7 million to £11.1 million.
Revenue climbed 9.1 per cent to £60.5 million, it said at the time.
Patisserie Valerie trades from more than 200 stores and also has a partnership with Sainsbury’s, with branded counters present in the supermarket.