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Wed 19th Dec 2018 - Update: Patisserie Valerie boss outlines new initiatives as Starbucks executive joins team
Patisserie Valerie boss outlines new initiatives as Starbucks executive joins team: Patisserie Valerie’s new boss has outlined a series of initiatives being introduced as he appointed a Starbucks executive to a key commercial role. Rhys Iley, formerly retail and operations vice-president at Starbucks in Europe, will become group commercial director of Patisserie Holdings, the chain’s parent company, completing an overhaul of senior management under new chief executive Steve Francis. The appointment comes as the company attempts to move on from the £40m black hole in its accounts that brought the company close to collapse. Francis, who was appointed last month in place of Paul May, told the Financial Times: “I really wanted someone with high street experience – a known heavyweight.” Patisserie Valerie’s future was only secured after executive chairman Luke Johnson extended an emergency loan and arranged a £15m equity issue that was approved at a shareholder meeting. Francis said: “I am focused on the future. This is a very unusual high street business, in that there is a hard core of customers and indeed employees who absolutely love it. It is not a business where current trading has fallen away. That’s one of the things I found attractive. It’s a candy store of opportunity.” Iley joins Nick Perrin, who was appointed interim chief financial officer earlier this month. Patisserie Holdings said it was conducting a process to find a permanent replacement for Chris Marsh, who resigned as chief financial officer shortly after the black hole was revealed, and who has been arrested and released on bail without charge. But Francis said it was possible Perrin’s appointment would become permanent. Francis added: “You cannot run a business in this situation without a chief financial officer. So the priority was to get high-quality people in fast. The general experience in companies that I have turned around is that interim hires become permanent ones.” Francis said other priorities were refreshing some of the product lines, improving the food-to-go offer and modernising the supply chain. He said: “Some aspects of the production and supply chain are a long way from what I am used to,” he said. Francis previously worked at Tulip, a pork processing company, as did Patisserie Valerie’s new director of food production and supply Jose Peralta. Of new initiatives, Francis said: “We didn’t have a coffee loyalty scheme, so we made some punch cards and they’ll be in the stores by Christmas.” In February, the group will launch a mobile payment and customer loyalty app developed by Yoyo, an initiative that was in progress before Francis joined. He was also unable to say when the shares, which have been suspended since early October, would resume trading.

Propel launches Leadership Summit, open for bookings: Propel is launching the Leadership Summit, which will see a select group of the sector’s most experienced bosses share their expertise on leadership. The full-day event, in partnership with Elliotts, will take place on Tuesday, 12 February at One Moorgate Place and is open for bookings. Speakers will include Will Stratton-Morris, chief executive of Caffe Nero, who will talk about building high-performance teams. Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King, speaks about the role of leadership in business turnarounds. Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott will talk to Des Gunewardena, chief executive of D&D London, about the lessons of leadership he has picked up in his career in the sector. Duncan Garrood, chief executive of Ten Entertainment, will give his views on leadership and the customer experience, while Jo Fleet, managing director of Flat Iron, will talk about empowering people and trust and getting the team to “buy in” through clear communication and vision. Mark Jones, chief executive of Carluccio’s, will explain how the company is building the quality and skillsets of its general managers to lead the business out of decline. Simon Townsend, chief executive of Ei Group, will give his views on the challenges of leadership during a period of immense change and Zoe Bowley, managing director of PizzaExpress, will give her top ten tips on leadership. Meanwhile, Loungers founder Alex Reilley will talk about the adaptations involved in growing a business from one site to more than 100, celebrating success and the art of succession, while Ann Elliott will give her views on the power of mentoring to grow talent in organisations. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “With the industry facing such challenging times, effective leadership has never been more important. This is an unmissable opportunity to learn from high-profile leaders in our sector.” Prices are £295 plus VAT for Premium members, £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers. To book, email

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