In crisis bakery chain Patisserie Valerie has announced that suspended chief finance director Chris Marsh was arrested by the police last night and has been released on bail.
It’s the latest revelation in a turbulent week for the company, which on Wednesday saw trading in its shares suspended as an investigation into “significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities” and “a potential material mis-statement of the company’s accounts” was launched. Marsh was suspended immediately.
Later the same day Patisserie Valerie’s board announced that it had discovered that a winding up petition had been issued against its primary trading subsidiary almost a month ago, over an unpaid £1.14m tax bill.
Yesterday after analysing its financial situation the company said it would be forced to cease trading if an immediate injection of capital isn’t made. With 2,500 jobs at risk further announcements are expected imminently.
While the exact situation the company finds itself in, along with its cause, remains unclear the severity has been laid stark.
In a statement regarding yesterday’s arrest Hertfordshire Police said: “A 44-year-old man from St Albans has been arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation. He has been released under investigation.”
The Serious Fraud office also confirmed it had opened a criminal investigation.
The group has 206 stores across five brands: Patisserie Valerie, Druckers – Vienna Patisserie, Philpotts, Baker & Spice and Flour Power City.
In its half-year report, made earlier this year, the group, chaired by serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson, reported year-on-year pre-tax profit growth of 14.2% for the six months to 31 March 2018, up from £9.7m the previous year to £11.1m.