The chain confirmed some 71 businesses would close immediately while its remaining 122 stores would continue trading as normal as administrators KPMG looked for a buyer.
According to the Daily Mail, sources have said Ashley is looking to buy the firm and add it to his growing portfolio of high street businesses. In January, Ashley famously rescued department store House of Fraser from administration in a last minute £90m deal. He is also thought to be considering the purchase of recently collapsed entertainment retailer, HMV.
It is also speculated that restaurateur David Scott – who sold his business Druckers to Patisserie Valerie more than a decade ago – has expressed interest in acquiring the cafe chain.
Patisserie Valerie has struggled to keep itself afloat following months of fraudulent discoveries within its accounts. In October last year, it discovered “potentially fraudulent” activities which led to the arrest and resignation of its CFO Chris Marsh. Later, forensic accountants found “significant manipulation” indicating the misstatement of its finances were worse than initially thought.
This resulted in the company entering discussions with bankers to extend the standstill of its bank facilities. On 22 January, the company announced it had gone into administration with a statement which said it “regrettably” did not have “sufficient funding to meet its liabilities”.
Catering Today has approached KPMG for comment.