Patisserie Valerie has appointed Stephen Francis, former boss of pork producer Tulip Ltd, as CEO after Paul May resigned amid an investigation into claims of “fraudulent activity”.

The news follows the departure of Patisserie’s finance director Chris Marsh who has been suspended since an accounting black hole was discovered by the company.

The cake shop and café chain said May would step down immediately and would be replaced by Francis.

Francis’ most recent role was as chief executive of major pork business Tulip Ltd, where he led a return to growth.

Francis helped nurse a number of other companies back to health, including as the chief executive of timber-frame houses maker Danwood Group and in turnaround roles at Vion Food Group and Vita Group.

Chairman Luke Johnson said: “He has a strong track record of restoring value in turnaround situations, especially in the food industry, and the board looks forward to working with him in the revival of the business,”

Johnson has also agreed to provide loans of up to £20m to help keep the company afloat.

The Serious Fraud Office is currently investigating the fraud allegations against Marsh.