Patisserie Valerie

Governance standards must improve if we are to avoid more debacles like Patisserie Valerie

Sir, Recent events at Patisserie Valerie underline the need for a drastic improvement in corporate governance standards.

It is yet another example of why the FCA is calling for cultural change to be led by the executive, bringing an era of increased transparency where all stakeholder interests are represented at a senior level.

The departure of CEO Paul May and suspension of finance director Chris Marsh over the £40m black hole in Patisserie Valerie’s accounts demonstrates a complete lack of control and understanding of the books by those who were supposed to be in charge.

There’s no excuse for having little comprehension of such issues or not having reporting mechanisms in place.

Governance standards must improve if we are to avoid more debacles like Patisserie Valerie.

A properly trained independent non-executive director can “speak truth to power” leading the charge for cultural change to stop standards slipping. It is an appointment all companies should consider.

After all, had someone been asking the tough questions at Patisserie Valerie, someone with the skills, training and experience needed to understand company accounts, then the company may not have gotten into such a mess in the first place.

Gary Dixon, chair, Association of Independent Non-Executive Directors