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Patisserie Valerie warns on brink of collapse

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The owner of Patisserie Valerie has said the 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 a month ago 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.

Patisserie Holdings

  • 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 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.

It its statement on Thursday, the firm said that over the past 24 hours it had "undertaken further investigation into the financial status of the company".

The board found "a material shortfall between the reported financial status and the current financial status of the business".

"Without an immediate injection of capital, the directors are of the view that that is no scope for the business to continue trading in its current form," it continued.

The company said its "professional advisers are assessing all options available to the business to keep it trading and will update the market in due course".

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Primary school tables: Poor pupils won’t catch up for 50 years

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As new primary school data is released, BBC analysis suggests it will take 50 years to close the achievement gap between England's rich and poor pupils.

If the pace of change remains the same as it has done since 2011, poor pupils will not catch up until 2070, it shows.

This year, 51% of the poorest pupils reached the expected level in their national end-of-primary school tests.

This compares with 70% of their better-off peers, leaving a gap of 19 percentage points

Readers can check how schools in their area have performed through the BBC's postcode search below.

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English primary school tables

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What's in the school league tables?

League tables are the shop window of every school, and parents often use them to help choose schools for their children.

They are based on the performance of pupils in each school in their end-of-primary national curriculum tests, known as Sats.

This year was the third time children sat the government's tougher tests, introduced in 2016.

The tables give a snapshot of how each school is performing in results and pupil progress but they also provide a huge amount of data on education at a national level.

The government has said the attainment of disadvantaged pupils is a key aim of its education policies.

The achievement gap has shrunk every year since 2011 but at a slow pace.

If this pace continues, the gap in attainment at this early age will not close until at least 2070, BBC analysis reveals.

To assess this gap, the government uses pupils' results in reading and maths tests.

These are ranked from best to worst as if they were the results of a race.

On average, poorer pupils rank worse. This difference in average ranking between poorer and better-off children is the disadvantage gap.

The current gap shows that poorer children would sit 2.9 places further back on average in a ranking of 20 poorer and 20 better-off children.

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Media captionExplaining the disadvantage gap in primary school test results

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said: "Standards are rising in our schools, with 86% of schools now rated good or outstanding as of August 2018, compared to 68% in 2010 and these statistics show that the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has closed by 13% since 2010."

In 2011, the disadvantage gap was 3.3 places, it is now 2.9 places, having closed by 13% or 0.4 places.

Mr Gibb added: "Every child, regardless of their background, deserves a high quality education and opportunity to fulfil their potential."

Children are counted as disadvantaged if they are eligible for the pupil premium, that is if they have been eligible for free school meals at any point during the past six years or have been in care continuously for at least six months.

Data published in July revealed 64% of pupils met the expected standard across all tests: reading, writing and mathematics – up from 61% the previous year.

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