Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley bids for Patisserie Valerie cafe chain

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Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has made a bid to buy cafe chain Patisserie Valerie, which collapsed into administration last month.

A statement late on Friday said Sports Direct confirmed it had made “an offer to acquire the trade and assets of Patisserie Valerie Holdings”.

Administrator KPMG has closed 70 Patisserie Valerie outlets, but kept 121 open while a buyer was found.

Mr Ashley bought House of Fraser last year and owns a big stake in Debenhams.

The cafe chain employed about 3,000 staff, but some 900 jobs were lost in the initial wave of closures in January.

Details of Mr Ashley’s offer and how many outlets he wants to buy have not been disclosed.

In October, Patisserie Valerie, where entrepreneur Luke Johnson is the biggest shareholder, uncovered “significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities”.

The company said in a statement last month that it did not have enough money to meet its debts.

In addition to Patisserie Valerie, the company’s other brands include Druckers Vienna Patisserie, Philpotts, Baker & Spice and Flour Power City.

Finance director Chris Marsh was arrested after having been suspended by the company when the financial irregularities were uncovered.

Also under investigation, by the Financial Reporting Council, are former Patisserie Valerie auditors Grant Thornton.

Mr Ashley, who also owns English Premier League football club Newcastle United, made his name building budget chain Sports Direct into Britain’s biggest sporting goods retailer.

At a time when retailers are struggling, his name is frequently linked as a potential buyer of any that get financial trouble. Last week he emerged as front runner to buy

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  • The first cafe was opened on Frith Street in London’s Soho district in 1926
  • In 1987 the Scalzo family bought the Old Compton Street store and ran the business
  • In 2006, Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners bought a majority stake when it had eight stores.
  • Patisserie Valerie was floated on the AIM stock market, for smaller companies, in 2014

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