Since Belgian-born Madame Valerie opened her first shop in Soho in 1926 to introduce fine continental patisserie to the English, this restaurant operator has grown to 53 cafés in London and across England. Known for its hand-made cakes, patisseries and croissants, the company notes that its best advertising is its shop windows. In 2006 Luke Johnson and his private-equity business Risk Capital Partners backed a £6m buyout of the Birmingham-based company. Led by chief executive Paul May, the company’s profits have grown by 48% a year, from £1.7m in 2008 to £5.6m in 2011.
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