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Patisserie Valerie: new management and new mobile payments

Amid a turbulent period for the business, Patisserie Valerie has launched a new mobile payments and loyalty scheme.

The restaurant chain which operates circa 155 locations across the UK and Ireland was saved from collapse in October after Luke Johnson, who owns 37% of the business, provided £20 million in loans to partly plug a black hole that emerged in the company’s accounts.

The Financial Reporting Council has said it plans to investigate Patisserie Valerie’s auditor Grant Thornton over a £40 million gap in the business's accounts. The action was announced after the company’s former finance director, Chris Marsh, was arrested after the accounting irregularities were uncovered.

A Serious Fraud Office criminal investigation is under way.

But now, in a move to provide customers with a new service, a fully-branded Patisserie Valerie app, which has been built and will be powered by Yoyo Wallet, will be made available across the restaurant estate.

It includes automated loyalty accumulation, instant rewards redemption and voucher sharing, and digital receipt collection – all of which is delivered at the point of sale (PoS). Caffe Nero is Yoyo’s largest existing client, and details of the partnership featured in Essential Retail earlier this year.

Patisserie Valerie’s investment in the technology marks the first time it has been able to collect anonymised customer basket data at the PoS, and it should enable the chain to analyse and segment purchasing behaviour to deliver personalised rewards, offers and in-store experiences.

“Patisserie Valerie is thrilled to announce our partnership with Yoyo, which is the first in a range of initiatives we will be launching over the next few months to enhance our in-store customer experience,” said new Patisserie Holdings CEO Steve Francis, who has been on a hiring spree in the month since his arrival.

The new technology is being launched as “a thank you to our loyal customers”, he added.

Building its reputation again after recent events will take more than just new technology, of course, and that involves change at the top of the organisation.

Former Starbucks executive, Rhys Iley, has been brought in this week as commercial director. His appointment follows the arrival of interim finance chief Nick Perrin two weeks ago, and the recent employment of Jose Peralta as food production and supply director.

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