New Patisserie CEO Left Last Employer as Turnaround Stalled

(Bloomberg) -- The new chief executive officer of Patisserie Valerie’s holding company presided over losses that dragged down the performance of his previous employer before his departure, according to a filing released Friday.

Patisserie Holdings Plc hailed new CEO Stephen Francis as a leader with a track record of turning around companies when it appointed him on Nov. 15. Francis will pilot the troubled cake maker as it attempts to rebound from an accounting scandal that devastated company finances and led some top executives to resign.

As CEO of Tulip Ltd., the British subsidiary of meat company Danish Crown A/S, Francis was also in charge of a turnaround. While there were some signs of success in the U.K. unit, its performance this year was “very disappointing” and led to management changes, the Denmark-based company said in its annual report.

The company is working to “make our U.K. operations as robust as in the rest of Danish Crown,” CEO Jais Valeur wrote in the report released Friday. “We realized that the changes were not solidly anchored, and our efforts were basically not resulting in the necessary progress.”

Francis’s departure was a part of the management change, according to Jens Hansen, a Danish Crown spokesman. A representative of Patisserie Holdings said the company had no immediate comment and that Francis couldn’t be reached for comment.

Later on Friday, Danish Crown sought to correct those comments, saying that Francis’s exit had been planned earlier and that he had completed the first phase of the company’s transformation.

“We will continue to build upon these foundations during phase two of the Tulip turnaround process,” Valeur said in the emailed statement.

Francis is succeeding Patisserie’s Paul May, who stepped down after the baking company reported a surprise deficit that led to the arrest of former finance director Chris Marsh. He was later released. The baker nearly collapsed in the wake of the accounting scandal. Both Marsh and company auditor Grant Thornton LLP are under U.K. regulatory investigation. The Serious Fraud Office also opened a criminal probe. The shares haven’t traded since the scandal erupted.

May, Marsh and Chairman Luke Johnson were part of a management team that took the company public in 2014.

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