Patisserie Valerie owner plans London listing

LONDON - British cafe chain and bakery Patisserie Holdings is planning a stock market debut which could value it at around 170 million pounds (S$359million), joining a flurry of consumer-focused listings as the outlook for spending in the country brightens.

Patisserie Holdings, owner of the Patisserie Valerie chain, is chaired by Luke Johnson, former chairman of Channel 4 television who made his name backing restaurant chain Pizza Express, a familiar brand on the British high street.

The cafe company's current backers, who include Johnson's private equity firm Risk Capital Partners and other management, plan to retain at least a half stake in the company, whose listing on London's junior Alternative Investment Market is scheduled to take place before the end of May. "We built this business through a recession and we're now nicely positioned to grow it," chief executive Paul May said in an interview on Wednesday.

UK retailers including discount chain Poundland, newsagent McColl's, Pets at Home and online fashion outlet have already listed this year on the back of improving consumer sentiment.

A survey showed British consumer optimism had risen last month to its highest level since around the start of the financial crisis in 2007.

Patisserie Holdings, which operates from 138 stores as well as selling baking products to restaurants, plans to raise around 33 million pounds through the flotation and will use the proceeds to repay debt. Current shareholders will sell up to 55 million pounds worth of shares.

Patisserie Holdings reported core earnings in the year ended September of 12 million pounds, 25 per cent higher than the previous year, and is eyeing new store openings. It plans to start paying a dividend in its next financial year, ending September 2015.

The original Patisserie Valerie was opened in central London in 1926 but its premises were damaged in the second world war. It was subsequently re-established and has been running ever since. Risk Capital Partners acquired the business in 2006.

Canaccord Genuity is acting as financial adviser to the company.