Julia Irvine 6 Dec 2018 10:58am

Patisserie Holdings finds interim CFO

Troubled Patisserie Holdings has appointed an interim CFO to replace its former finance chief who resigned following the discovery of a £40m black hole in its accounts two months ago

He’s Nick Perrin who until October was group finance director of AIM-quoted veterinary services provider CVS Group.

Welcoming his appointment, Patisserie Holdings CEO Steve Francis – who is also new to the business – said, “He brings with him the necessary experience to help strengthen the team as the company works tirelessly to put the events of the past months behind it and look forward to the future.”

He pointed out that during Perrin’s tenure, CVS saw its revenues increase from £110m to £350m. 

Perrin, who is an ICAEW member, trained with PwC and worked for the Big Four firm for 13 years before moving to automotive parts manufacturer T&N as group accounting manager.

He then moved into several finance director roles for the Co-op’s specialist retail division, Genting Casinos and Praesepe. He joined CVS in January 2013.

Perrin will have his work cut out: Patisserie Holdings, which owns cakes and cafés chain Patisserie Valerie, shocked the market in October when it announced that it had uncovered “significant and potentially fraudulent” accounting irregularities in its accounts and was suspending both its CFO, Chris Marsh, and its shares with immediate effect.

Marsh was later arrested “under suspicion of fraud by false representation” but released on bail without charge. Shortly afterwards, he handed in his resignation.

Patisserie Holdings then discovered that HMRC had taken out a winding-up petition against its principal trading subsidiary over £1.14m unpaid taxes. Chairman Luke Johnson was forced to put in £20m of his own money to stop the business going under. It currently has more than 200 outlets and employs around 2,800 staff.

Since then the business has successfully fought off the winding-up petition, replaced its chief executive, persuaded its shareholders to back a plan to issue £15m worth of new shares, and negotiated an agreement with its principal lenders to give it more time to sort out its finances.

Meanwhile, Big Four firm PwC is trawling through its books and tax experts Alvarez & Marsal are investigating its tax liabilities. The Financial Reporting Council has also announced an investigation into the roles played by Marsh and auditors Grant Thornton.

Patisserie Valerie said that Perrin had been retained on an interim basis while it was looking for a permanent CFO. He will not be joining the board.