Patisserie Valerie brings in turnaround expert to replace CEO

The boss of beleaguered cake chain Patisserie Valerie has stepped down as the company installs a new CEO to lead its recovery.

Paul May’s departure comes just over a month after the company found a black hole in its accounts and was forced to raise emergency funds to stay afloat.

His role will be taken up by Stephen Francis, who was recently CEO of pork producer Tulip, where he led a rapid return from significant losses.

Mr Francis’s experience also includes transforming Danwood Group as CEO, as well as working on the turnarounds of Vion Food Group and Vita Group.

Chairman Luke Johnson, who loaned the company £20 million to save it from collapse in October, said Mr Francis would assist with a “revival” of the business.

“I am delighted to welcome Steve Francis as new CEO at Patisserie Holdings PLC,” he said.

“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.”

Mr May and Mr Johnson both faced criticism at a meeting of Patisserie shareholders in early November.

Investors took aim at £15 million emergency fundraising, which they said would dilute their stakes in the company.

The future of the company was first thrown into doubt after it uncovered fraudulent activity around its financial accounts and was served a wind-up order by the taxman over £1.14 million owed to HM Revenue and Customs.

The group’s finance director Chris Marsh was arrested on suspicion of fraud last month, but was later released. He has since left the group.