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

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

A Sports Direct statement late on Friday confirmed an offer had been made, but gave no further details.

Administrator KPMG closed 70 Patisserie Valerie outlets, but kept 121 open in the hope of finding a buyer.

Mr Ashley, who owns House of Fraser and has a big stake in Debenhams, missed out this week on a bid for HMV.

The cafe chain employed about 3,000 staff, but some 900 jobs were lost in the initial wave of closures when KPMG was appointed to run the business in January.

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, he is frequently linked as a potential buyer of any that get financial trouble. He bought House of Fraser last year, and also acquired Evans Cycles and Agent Provocateur. Last week he emerged as front runner to buy

Earlier this week, Canada’s Sunrise Records beat Mr Ashley in a battle to by the music retailer HMV.

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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