Sainsbury's Patisserie Valerie

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Shares in Patisserie Valerie (CAKE) have been suspended after “significant, potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities” were found by the café chain.

Owner Patisserie Holdings, said the issue could cause a “potential material” mis-statement in its accounts.

Finance director James Marsh has been suspended while investigations take place into the black hole in the company accounts.

The listed company also runs Druckers, Philpotts, Baker & Spice, and the Flour Power City Bakery.

Executive chairman and largest shareholder Luke Johnson, one of the country’s best-known entrepreneurs, commented: ”We are all deeply concerned about this news and the potential impact on the business.”

“We are determined to understand the full details of what has happened and will communicate these to investors and stakeholders as soon as possible.”

The company, which was listed in 2014, said the irregularities have “significantly impacted the company’s cash position and may lead to a material change in its overall financial position”.

It asked to be suspended from the AIM index while a full investigation into its true financial position with legal professional advisors.

Patisserie Holdings said its board of directors had been notified of the potential irregularities on Tuesday.

On Tuesday the chain, which is valued at around £450m, had a closing share price of 429.5p.

The discovery could also place pressure on the company’s auditor Grant Thornton, Sky News reports, at a time when the government has placed significant scrutiny on the UK’s biggest auditing firms.

Morning update

Sales boomed 15% at Pedigree brewer Marston’s (MARS) over the past year, buoyed by hot summer weather and England’s world cup exploits.

The brewer and pub group has also seen a rise in pre-tax profits to £104m for the year ending 29 September 2018, it said in a trading update.

Sales growth was driven by booming beer sales, with volumes up 47% as it was boosted by its acquisition of the Charles Wells Brewing and Beer Business in 2017, good weather and the World Cup.

Total pub sales increased 3.2% with like-for-like growth of 0.6%. In the last 10 weeks of the period like-for-like sales had risen 1.6%.

Marstons’ beer-led Tavern pubs “performed strongly” recording 3.8% like-for-like sales growth.

The company’s food-led pubs and restaurants however suffered as a result of the World Cup and poor weather at the start of 2018, with like-for-like sales down 1.2%.

The company expanded its portfolio with 14 new pubs and restaurant opened over the year, and has now completed the acquisition of 15 former Mitchell and Butler sites from property investment company Aprirose.

’’2018 was a strong year for our Taverns and Beer businesses. We have seen clear benefit from our balanced portfolio having achieved good growth in wet-led pubs and from brewing, maximising the trading opportunities provided by the good summer weather and World Cup,” commented Ralph Findlay, CEO.

British American Tobacco (BATS) has announced that chief marketing officer Andrew Gray is leaving the company at the end of 2018 after 32 years working for the tobacco giant.

Gray served as regional director, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa before assuming his current role as CMO.

He will be replaced in the role Kingsley Wheaton, who is currently regional director Americas and Sub-Saharan Africa, and will commence the role on 1 January 2019.

The move is the latest leadership role at the FTSE 100 giant, which will see Jack Bowles replace current CEO Nicandro Durante in April 2019.

“I would like to thank Andrew for his outstanding leadership and service to BAT over his highly successful 32 year career,” commented CEO Nicandro Durante.

“We will miss his calm demeanour, his strategic thinking and his considerable experience of our business. The evolution of our marketing strategy under his leadership will benefit the group for many years to come.”

CEO Designate, Jack Bowles, said: “Having worked with Kingsley for a long time there is no doubt that he is an excellent fit for this role. His breadth of experience right across our business, combined with his proven leadership, positions him extremely well to continue driving our transforming tobacco strategy.”

Dominos has appointed its latest finance chief, who becomes its fourth person in four years to hold the role.

Former Connect Group CFO David Bearnfeind has been announced as the new CFO, replacing Rachel Osborne who left the fast food business for struggling retailer Debenhams in June.

“He has considerable experience at this level, with growing and successful listed businesses like ours, which we believe makes him a perfect match for the fast-moving culture of Domino’s,” commented Domino’s CEO David Wild.

David Bauernfeind said: “I have spent the past two months learning about the company and getting to know my new colleagues and I am thrilled to be joining such a talented and ambitious team on a permanent basis.”

The FTSE 100 has continued its slump after a minor recovery yesterday, dropping 0.3% to 7,215p.

The early risers this morning include Ocado Group (OCDO), up 2.5% to 797.6p, Just Eat (JE.), up 0.9% to 630.4p, and Marks & Spencer (MKS), up 0.8% to 289.5p.

Early fallers this morning include Marstons, down 2.7% to 98.5p, Purecircle Limited (PURE), down 298p, and BAT, down 1.2% to 3,376p.

Yesterday in the city

The FTSE 100 hit a six-month low yesterday after the IMF slashed global growth forecasts.

The UK index recovered slightly to end the day a little higher, up 0.05% to 7,237pts after several days of losses.

Bakery chain Greggs (GRG) had a strong day, jumping 4.6% to 1,052p, after it reported a 7.3% sales jump in its third quarter, driven by like-for-like growth and new store openings.

In the 13 weeks to 29 September 2018 Greggs’ total sales grew by 7.3% - a slight decline from the 8.6% growth posted in the third quarter last year.

Another of yesterday’s strong performers was Tesco (TSCO), which rose 2.5% to 215.3p, as it received an upgrade to ‘investment’ by credit rating agency Fitch.

Other risers included Fevertree Drinks (FEVR), up 2.1% to 2,950p, and Stock Spirit Group (STCK), up 1.7% to 203.5p.

Yesterday’s most significant fallers included, Real Good Food (RGF), down 8.5% to 6.7p, Purecircle Limited (PURE), down 6.9% to 305p, Cranswick, down 4.5% to 3,090p and Treatt (TRT), down 4.2% to 440.5p.