The owner of Patisserie Valerie has said the cafe chain needs “an immediate injection of capital” to continue trading in its current form.
The stark statement to investors comes after the firm uncovered “significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities”.
It also belatedly discovered HMRC filed a winding-up petition against one of its principal subsidiaries in September and is seeking £1.14m in taxes.
The firm has more than 2,500 staff.
The company announced earlier this week that finance director Chris Marsh had been suspended.
Staff told the BBC that they have not been told anything by the company at all, and even the store managers are in the dark.
“I suppose it’s because there’s nothing wrong, but will we get paid our next month’s salary in three weeks’ time?” said an employee, who asked not to be named.
A long-term employee, who has worked for the company under both its current owner Risk Capital Partners and the previous owners, the Scalzo family, told the BBC that she only found out about Patisserie Valerie’s problems through media coverage.
“No one has told us anything. I asked my manager and they don’t know anything either,” she said.
- It has five brands: Patisserie Valerie, Druckers – Vienna Patisserie, Philpotts, Baker & Spice and Flour Power City.
- Now, there are 206 stores across the chain and more than 2,500 staff as of May 2018.
- It was floated on the AIM stock market, for smaller companies, in 2014.
- The first Patisserie Valerie café was opened on Frith Street in London’s Soho district in 1926.
- In 1987 the Scalzo family bought the Old Compton Street store and ran the business.
- In 2006, Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners bought a majority stake when it had eight stores.