Ex-Patisserie Valerie boss wanted to flee UK after company collapsed

Former Patisserie Valerie boss says he wanted to flee the country and suffered from chronic insomnia when the cafe chain went into administration after he sank £10m of his own money into the business to keep it afloat

  • Patisserie Valerie went into administration after potential fraud was discovered 
  • Former chairman Luke Johnson lent the company £10 million of his own money
  • However, it wasn’t enough and the chain was forced to announce redundancies 
  • Mr Johnson revealed today that the incident made him want to leave the country 

The former chairman of cafe chain Patisserie Valerie says he wanted to flee the UK after the company collapsed into administration earlier this year.  

Patisserie Valerie was put into administration in January, despite then boss Luke Johnson lending the business £10 million of his own money to try and keep it afloat.

It was discovered in October last year that there were a number of accounting irregularities on the company’s books, which may indicate fraudulent activity. 

Former chairman of Patisserie Valerie Luke Johnson says he wanted to flee the UK after the company collapsed into administration earlier this year

The 57-year-old wrote in The Times today that he developed ‘chronic insomnia’ and rarely left the house when the company collapsed, which forced him to announce redundancies. 

An estimated 900 people lost their jobs as more than 70 stores closed down. 

He said the scrutiny also affected his wife, Liza, and their three children.  

Patisserie Valerie was put into administration in January, after it was discovered there were a number of accounting irregularities on the company’s books

‘I felt ashamed that I had brought such difficulties upon my family,’ he said.

‘I was very depressed and I began to think my career in this country was over — that I should emigrate.

Mr Johnson revealed today that the incident made him want to leave the country

‘A very public disaster like this shatters your self-belief.’  

Luke Johnson’s private equity firm Risk Capital Partners purchased a controlling stake in Patisserie Holdings – parent company of Patisserie Valerie – in 2006, growing the chain from eight outlets to 192. 

However, despite reasonable stock growth, and audits saying the company had almost £30 million in cash reserves, the company’s bank accounts were frozen last October.  

It turned out the company actually had £10 million debts and £9.7 million drawn from two secret overdraft accounts due to allegedly fraudulent activity. 

Trading on the company’s stocks were immediately halted and  former finance director Chris Marsh was arrested on suspicion of fraud.

Mr Johnson was previously chairman of Channel 4, Pizza Express and The Royal Society of Arts.  

His estimated net worth was £220 million as of 2015. 

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