Patisserie Valerie Holdings achieves ambitious growth strategy and restructures its business with the support of Grant Thornton Profile Company Patisserie Valerie Holdings Industry Food and Beverage Country UK Employees 2,500 Website www.patisserie-valerie.co.uk Challenge Patisserie Valerie has an ambitious growth strategy, including opening around 20 new branches per year and a new online operation. This depends on systems that safeguard product and service quality and maintain the brand, both in the high street and on the web. Grant Thornton has supported Patisserie Valerie through its ambitious expansion ‘‘Grant Thornton worked with us to restructure the business. It was very good, they understood exactly what we were trying to do commercially.” Paul May, CEO, Patisserie Valerie Solution Grant Thornton provides commercial advice and a high-quality audit, ensuring that robust systems are in place to support rapid growth. Advice is also provided to identify tax efficiencies and savings that enable maximum re-investment in future growth. Services Audit and corporate tax. Benefits With the aid of Grant Thornton’s insights, audit of systems and advice on identifying tax efficiencies and reinvestment opportunities, Patisserie Valerie has grown from £5 million sales and 256 employees in 2006 to £61 million sales and 2,500 employees in 2012. Patisserie Valerie started as a café in London’s Soho in 1926 and became a landmark, famous for its sociable atmosphere, highquality ingredients and spectacular shop window. When Paul May, backed by a private equity firm, took over the business in 2006, it consisted of six premises and two franchise operations. Six years later, Patisserie Valerie Holdings owns and runs 97 cafés and its extensive expansion programme shows no signs of slowing. The company has been recognised in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 – in the 2011 fastest-growing companies in terms of sales and in the 2012 list among those with the fastest-growing profits. ‘‘I have a good relationship with the partner at Grant Thornton. He understands me, my finance director and how we work.” Paul May, CEO, Patisserie Valerie Managing growth effectively is a crucial part of taking a business forward. Grant Thornton has been working with Patisserie Valerie Holdings to advise it as it implements a bold growth strategy. As a 25-year retail industry veteran, CEO Paul May has strong views on how to keep control of a company that has grown from £5 million sales and 256 employees in 2006 to £61 million sales and 2,500 employees in 2012. “I’m very much systems and financially led,” says May. “The basics are important in any type of business. If you’ve got something that works, the performance is excellent, return on capex is good, then don’t change it. Put the systems and controls in place and roll it out.” The importance of trust For such an organisation, trust is important. “I have a good relationship with [audit partner] Steve Robinson at Grant Thornton. He understands me, my finance director and how we work,” says May. “As a result, Grant Thornton worked with us to restructure the business. The team understood what we wanted to do commercially.” Robinson stresses that the key to this was early engagement: “We discussed Patisserie Valerie’s plans and it became clear that we could achieve a positive strategic and tax outcome by organising the restructure to fully reflect the needs of the business.” He adds that while Patisserie Valerie has a strong in-house ethos, it calls on Grant Thornton for advice in a number of areas. “They run a very tight ship, but we challenge aspects of the business,” he explains. “We work closely on specifics, such as auditing and stock taking, as well as maximising tax efficiencies, working on capital allowances and making sure that there is the maximum amount of cash available to reinvest in capital assets.” Grant Thornton’s work in this area has helped Patisserie Valerie achieve a return on capex of just 18 months for new stores, which has enabled it to reinvest profits rather than court outside funds. Growth strategy Robinson has also worked closely on optimising relationships within the business, while Food & Beverage sector leader Trefor Griffith has facilitated discussions about a broader growth strategy. With the launch of Patisserie Valerie’s online business, Grant Thornton offered advice about operating in that space. “Our technology team was able to raise awareness of issues such as intrusion testing,” recalls Robinson. “It’s essential that data received from all branches is accurate and on time. This must then be processed efficiently to produce meaningful, reliable information that both maintains strong financial control and can be translated into profitability across the business. Expanding into the online environment brings new security risks that can jeopardise this process, so intrusion testing becomes even more crucial, both now and as the company continues to grow. “In addition, a system that works now may not support exponential growth, so we are on hand to help anticipate and address future challenges.” The relationship also goes beyond conventional accountancy. Paul May explains: “I appreciated the internal survey which Grant Thornton ran, assessing how its staff perceived our brand. Not only did we get useful feedback, but it introduced us to more than 4,000 potential customers.” Find out more at grant-thornton.co.uk ©2013 Grant Thornton UK LLP. All rights reserved. ‘Grant Thornton’ means Grant Thornton UK LLP, a limited liability partnership. Grant Thornton is a member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (Grant Thornton International). 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