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Brighton Pier shaken by shock profit alert: Fresh blow for Luke Johnson after Patisserie Valerie scandal

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 10/01/2019 James Burton and Matt Oliver For The Daily Mail
a close up of a sign: Brighton Pier Group  said that weekend disruption to train services had badly hit visitor numbers and profits would be a fifth lower than hoped © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Brighton Pier Group said that weekend disruption to train services had badly hit visitor numbers and profits would be a fifth lower than hoped

Embattled entrepreneur Luke Johnson has suffered another blow after his Brighton Pier Group posted a profit warning.

Johnson's firm – which owns the seaside town's historic 119-year-old pier – said that weekend disruption to train services had badly hit visitor numbers and profits would be a fifth lower than hoped.

Shares slumped as much as 41 per cent yesterday before closing down 22.2 per cent or 14p at 49p, wiping around £1.3million off the value of the businessman's 27 per cent stake.

It is another knock to the businessman's reputation, which took a battering when his cake seller Patisserie Valerie discovered a £40million black hole in its accounts.

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The chain's then-finance chief Chris Marsh has been arrested on fraud allegations, and 56-year-old Johnson was forced to pump in £20million of his own money to stave off collapse. 

Another of his firms – Bread Holdings, owner of chain Gail's Bakery – has also suffered.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 08: People watching the nightly starling murmuration at Brighton's Palace Pier before the birds roost for the night, on January 8, 2019 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Andrew Hasson/Getty Images) © 2019 Andrew Hasson LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 08: People watching the nightly starling murmuration at Brighton's Palace Pier before the birds roost for the night, on January 8, 2019 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Andrew Hasson/Getty Images)

Last month it revealed profits had tumbled from £2million to just £142,000 in its most recent accounts.

Brighton Pier blamed its problems on bad weather over the August Bank Holiday, and engineering work on the train line from London which reduced visitor numbers. 

...And a battle in Hastings 

Another businessman has become embroiled in a row over an historic pier just 30 miles from Brighton.

Brighton Pier at sunset with clouds over the illuminated entrance sign. Brighton Pier at sunset with clouds over the illuminated entrance sign.

Self-styled 'sheikh' Abid Gulzar is facing criticism after closing Hastings Pier at short notice for 'repairs and improvements'.

It was bought by Gulzar for just £100,000 last year after the charity running it went bust.

The tycoon faces protests this weekend, however, with community groups calling for the pier to be reopened to the public.

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The firm – which also owns bar chains including Lola Lo, Po Na Na and Fez Club – said full-year profits will be 18 Shares slumped as much as 41 per cent yesterday before closing down 22.2 per cent or 14p at 49p, wiping around £1.3million off the value of the businessman's 27 per cent stake below the £3.8million previously expected by the market. 

Russ Mould, of investment firm AJ Bell, said: 'When it rains it pours, and just as he looks to get Patisserie Valerie back on track after last year's accounting scandal, Johnson is now facing a nasty loss on the shares he owns in Brighton Pier.'

Mould added that Johnson has a right to buy 1.6m new shares at 60p each – far more than the stock is now worth – which lapses at the end of June.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Vicky Pattison seen visiting Brighton Pier with friends on October 3, 2018 in Brighton, England.  (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images) © 2018 Neil Mockford BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03: Vicky Pattison seen visiting Brighton Pier with friends on October 3, 2018 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)

Patisserie Valerie, meanwhile, told Commons business committee chairman Rachel Reeves it is determined suppliers are paid on time, amid fears of a huge backlog of bills. 

Many suppliers were left in the lurch – with one irate boss reportedly turning up at the firm's offices with a baseball bat.

Nick Perrin, interim finance chief, told Reeves in a letter: 'This is a complex and time-consuming task.'

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