Patisserie Holdings has announced that chief executive Paul May has resigned with immediate effect.

The Patisserie Valerie owner also revealed that Stephen Francis, former CEO of pork producer Tulip Ltd, is to take up the role immediately.

Francis was described by the company as a “strong leader and experienced turnaround chief executive with a proven track record of operational performance improvements”.

Since 2005 he has completed four successful operational turnarounds of multi-site, international businesses with revenues ranging from £2 billion to £200m. As CEO of Tulip Ltd. he led a rapid return from significant losses, rebuilt the management team and completed a major growth acquisition.

Prior to that, he led the turnaround of print services company Danwood Group as group CEO. He has also held turnaround roles at Vion Food Group and Vita Group as well as a number of senior roles at Barclays Capital, PricewaterhouseCoopers and McKinsey.

“I am delighted to welcome Steve Francis as new CEO at Patisserie Holdings PLC. He has a strong track record of restoring value in turnaround situations, especially in the food industry, and the board looks forward to working with him in the revival of the business,” said chairman Luke Johnson.

The change comes after a tumultuous couple of months for the business which has been brought back from the brink of collapse after an investigation into serious accounting regularities was launched on October 10. At the time, finance director Chris Marsh was suspended from his position, then arrested and bailed. The company has since accepted his resignation.

Patisserie Holdings

Total number of sites: 206

Brands: Patisserie Valerie (153 sites), Philpotts (22), Druckers (20), Baker and Spice (4), Flour Power City Bakery (1)

Employees: 3,200

Food/drink split (2017): 57/43

Eat in/takeaway split (2017): 65/35

Turnover: £60.5m (six months to 31 March 2018)

EBITDA: £13.6m (six months to 31 March 2018)

HQ location: Birmingham

Key management: Stephen Francis, CEO; Luke Johnson, chairman

Operating model: Company has a vertical supply chain, producing goods in-house at seven bakeries and delivering them to stores. Since acquiring Patisserie Valerie, the business has expanded rapidly through acquisitions and openings to more than 200 sites. In its current financial year, it has been aiming to open 20 stores. Products are also sold online and through partnership with Sainsbury’s patisserie counters.


1926: First Patisserie Valerie café opens in Frith Street in London’s Soho by Madame Valerie, to introduce Continental-style patisserie to the English.

1939-1945: Café destroyed by bombing in Second World War, and Madame Valerie opens new Patisserie Valerie on nearby Old Compton Street.

1945-2005: Patisserie Valerie grows to eight sites in central London.

2006: Luke Johnson’s private equity firm Risk Capital Partners backs acquisition of Patisserie Valerie by Patisserie Holdings.

2007: Acquires Druckers – Vienna Patisserie.

2009: Acquires Baker & Spice, which operates sites in London and Oxford.

2013: Acquires London-based organic bakery Flour Power City Bakery.

2014: Acquires the Philpotts food supply and café chain.

2014: Patisserie Holdings listed on Alternative Investment Market.

2016: Annual sales exceed £100m for the first time.

2017: Launches trial partnership with Sainsbury’s, selling branded products on 12 supermarket counters. Partnership is a success and has since been expanded to 70 stores.


10 October (AM): Share trading suspended as company launches investigation into serious accounting irregularities. Chief financial officer Chris Marsh suspended.

10 October (PM): Winding-up petition filed at the High Court relating to £1.14m owed to HMRC by Stonebeach Limited, the company’s principal trading subsidiary.

11 October: Patisserie Holdings reports it cannot continue to trade in its current form without immediate cash injection.

12 October: Chris Marsh arrested by police and released on bail.

15 October: Share offer raises £15.7m to help Patisserie Holdings continue trading, while chairman Luke Johnson provides £20m in loans.

24 October: Stonebeach winding-up order is dismissed.

26 October: Chris Marsh resigns from finance director role.

15 November: CEO Paul May resigns. Stephen Francis is appointed to the role.