The sportswear tycoon Mike Ashley has made a surprise bid to add collapsed cake chain Patisserie Valerie to his high-street empire.

On Friday evening the Sports Direct boss confirmed in a brief statement to the stock exchange that the company had made an offer for the stricken cake group, which plunged into administration last month.

Patisserie Valerie went into a death spiral after the discovery of a £40m black hole in its finances, which it blamed on “potentially fraudulent” accounting irregularities.

Last month the cafe group’s administrators, the advisory firm KPMG, closed 71 of its nearly 200 stores and concessions, but had remained hopeful that a buyer would be found for…

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