The company behind Patisserie Valerie is to open shops in Wales and Northern Ireland for the first time, as well as branching into retail parks and service stations.

Owner Patisserie Holdings this week announced plans to float on the stock exchange, a move designed to “supercharge the ability to grow”, a spokesman told British Baker.

The flotation, on London’s smaller AIM, would enable the business to expand and would allow the company to become debt-free, said chief executive Paul May. Patisserie Holdings, which also operates four other café brands including Philpotts sandwich shops and Flour Power City Bakery, hopes to raise £33m on the float, which could value the business at £150m.

The group has seen rapid growth during the recession. It has 138 stores in the UK and recorded a 21% growth in sales to £60m in its latest annual results.

Currently growing at a rate of 20 shops per year, May told British Baker that although the company had identified 250 suitable high street sites, he was keen to avoid “the Costa effect. I don’t want us to be literally everywhere and anywhere.”

In the coming year, more shops would open in London and, for the first time, Wales will have a Patisserie Valerie, in Cardiff, due to open in the next three months. There are also plans for a Northern Ireland branch within a year, although a site in Belfast had not yet been secured, May said.

Beyond the high street

There were also opportunities beyond the high street, said May. “We have opened in our first retail park in Edinburgh and the performance on that site has been comparable to a high street, and that has given us confidence to go into retail parks. We are also going to open in our first service station in Beaconsfield down the M40 in the next two or three months.”

Last November Patisserie Valerie opened three concessions within Next fashion stores. May said the performance at these outlets had been “acceptable” but that the future was uncertain. “Is it the right thing for us going forward? We’ve not really decided whether that is right or wrong. So that’s why we’ve said the roll-out will be very much be focused on the high street.”

May said the time was right for a flotation. “We’ve built this business through recession. The economy, we all believe, is improving and turning, so now is the right time for the business.”