Luke Johnson, the former stakeholder in Pizza Express and chairman of Channel Four, has bought a controlling stake in Patisserie Valerie, the upmarket chain of French cafes, according to The Times.

Johnson, who last week acquired a minority stake in Seafood Partners, a fresh fish distributor, in a £12m deal, is understood to have purchased a stake of around 80% in Patisserie Valerie through Risk Capital Partners, his buyout vehicle.

Reports suggest that Coffer Corporate Leisure, the agent handling the deal, was looking for offers valuing the company at £8m.

The company, which first opened an outlet in London in 1926, has been owned since 1987 by the three Scalzo brothers.

They have grown the group into a chain of 11 cafes, including three franchised outlets, all based in the capital.

However, it is believed the two younger brothers have had a difference of opinion over the best way forward for the business with their older sibling, which has led to the deal with Johnson.

The two younger Scalzos are expected to stay with the business, retaining a holding of around 20%.

The company is now thought to be looking at opening further sites in London, while also seeking to expand nationally.

Johnson, who floated Pizza Express with Hugh Osmond, now runs Risk also has stakes in the Giraffe restaurant chain and Riva bingo and greyhound stadia.