JOBS have been saved at three cafés in Oxford run by trouble-hit chain Patisserie Valerie.

Significant accounting irregularities led to the suspension of shares in the business last week.

But Patisserie Valerie was saved from collapse after entrepreneur Luke Johnson, who owns 37 per cent of the company, provided £20m in loans to the struggling chain.

This came as a huge relief to staff at the cafés in High Street, at Debenhams in Magdalen Street, and in Woodstock Road.

A member of staff at the High Street store said: “Obviously all the staff are relieved - now we can keep serving our customers.”

In September last year the chain opened its third restaurant in the city, in Woodstock Road, at the site of the former Maison Blanc café and for the past three months it has been trading as a Baker & Spice outlet, also owned by the company.

Paul May, chief executive officer of Patisserie Holdings, said at the time of the Woodstock Road opening: “We have received amazing feedback about our other Oxford stores, so we hope the locals and tourists in the area enjoy their newest café.”

Its website added: “The new store is the brand’s next step in their expansion strategy to open 20 new stores a year, and has created approximately 20 jobs.

“The new café will offer Patisserie Valerie’s famously indulgent Afternoon Tea, which includes a selection of decadent finger sandwiches, miniature cakes and patisserie bites, as well as plain and fruit scones, served with jam and clotted cream.

“The new store will also serve the brand’s scrumptious range of handmade gateaux and patisserie, as well as a menu of hot food for customers to enjoy. While customers sit down to indulge in these sweet and savoury treats they will be able to enjoy handcrafted coffee made by trained baristas.”

It is understood that Mr Johnson agreed to lend £10m for three years to owners Patisserie Holdings plc, which the company said would provide “immediate liquidity”.

Mr Johnson has also provided a further bridging loan facility of up to £10m.

The firm said it had also raised another £15m by issuing new shares. There are more than 200 stores across the chain with more than 2,500 staff.

Mr Johnson is also involved with Oxford Stadium through Risk Capital Partners, a firm he co-founded.