Morethan 60 jobs in Belfast have been saved after a Dublin-based private equity firm took over cake chain Patisserie Valerie, which has three stores in Northern Ireland.
The purchase by Causeway Capital Partners of 96 Patisserie Valerie sites follows the buyout of Downe Retail Park and Bow Street Mall by the Kildare-based Comer Group.
The deal safeguards an estimated 2,000 jobs across the UK, including dozens of positions in Belfast. However, Causeway Capital Partners’ deal does not include 27 outlets belonging to the firm’s sister brands, Philpotts and Baker & Spice. Those companies are thought to be being sold separately to a different buyer.
Patisserie Valerie, which was chaired by businessman Luke Johnson, was put up for sale last month after it collapsed following the discovery of fraudulent activity in its accounts.
But the chain has, like all retailers, faced other pressures including high rents and rates — a fact highlighted by NI Retail Consortium director Aodhan Connolly.
Causeway Capital’s Matt Scaife welcomed the purchase of the company.
“Patisserie Valerie is a heritage brand, much loved by its loyal customers,” he said.
“This investment should mark the end of a turbulent period for customers and suppliers alike.”
Patisserie Valerie chief executive Steve Francis added: “We are delighted to welcome Causeway Capital as our partners in Patisserie Valerie, ending a disruptive period of uncertainty for the business.
“The affection and loyalty for the brand among our customers and employees, and Causeway Capital’s enthusiasm and support for the business, creates for us the foundations for an exciting future for the business.”
The firm’s parent company, Patisserie Holdings, has been grappling with the accounting issues since October.
Last month the firm said the extent of the fraud meant it was unable to renew its bank loans with HSBC and Barclays and it did not have sufficient funding to continue trading, leaving it with no option but to appoint KPMG as administrator.
KPMG has already closed 70 stores, resulting in 920 redundancies.
The Belfast Telegraph revealed earlier this month that the Comer Group, which is led by brothers Brian and Luke Comer, had bought over Bow Street Mall in Lisburn and Downe Retail Park in Downpatrick. The Lisburn retail asset was purchased for approximately £12m — some 33% below its £18m price tag.