Patisserie Valerie Holdings achieves ambitious growth

Patisserie Valerie Holdings achieves ambitious growth
strategy and restructures its business with the support
of Grant Thornton
Patisserie Valerie Holdings
Food and Beverage
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
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.
Audit and corporate tax.
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.”
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