A source close to the ousted management team at Patisserie Valerie has said the decision came “like a bolt out of the blue” as the team prepared to take the business forward.
Chief executive Steve Francis and group commercial director Rhys Iley were informed last week that Causeway Capital, which acquired the Patisserie Valerie chain out of administration, had u-turned on its plan to back their management of the brand.
The source suggested that Causeway was keen to strip as many costs out of the business as possible as it seeks to stabilise the now 96-strong chain.
It has led to speculation that James Fleming, chief executive of BB’s, which is also backed by Causeway may take responsibility for the brand in the short-term but it is thought a separate management team is still being sought.
The source said: “The team thought Causeway had bought into their vision for the brand, which is what emboldened them to be so public. They had their heads down and were hard and work and then the rug was pulled from under them.”
The latest twist in the story comes just two weeks after Causeway Capital was announced as the successful bidder for the chain, with sister sandwich shop business Philpotts sold to retail, wholesale and distribution firm A.F Blakemore, for £13m and Baker & Spice picked up by the Department of Coffee & Social Affairs.
Speaking to MCA earlier this month, Iley had set out the pillars of the brand overhaul, including investment in NPD and technology with the existing stores set to undergo a refresh.