Rather than focusing on the accounting fraud that has triggered Patisserie Valerie's decline, David Mitchell's column in The Observer this weekend criticised its brand.
According to The Telegraph, Patisserie Valerie's sales have been in decline for the last three years. David Mitchell's piece suggested the cafe is now far from the small, enticing Belgian bakery it started as.
So can independent businesses scale and not lose what made them special?
Technology is making it easier to grow online. Tech businesses like Shopify are championing these businesses through support that enables them to scale easily, without the need to invest in stores everywhere. Marketplaces like Not On The High Street are providing an audience of shoppers without the small companies having to identify them, and still appear as an independent, personal service.
In contrast to ecommerce, doing business on the high street has become harder. More than 23,000 shops are forecast to close in 2019, according to research from Altus Group.
To combat this it's going to be critical for independents to enhance the experience they offer with technology. That means linking what they do on the high street with digital targeting.
Then once customers have been encouraged to visit locations, the brand then needs to offer visitors something special. Patisserie Valerie isn't the luxurious patisserie it first presented itself as, and with 200 stores it's not a local place.
We're increasingly seeing that consumers want to buy from brands that have a purpose. We explored this topic with D/sruption in our joint report here. Independents are often best at realising their purpose. For example, wanting to pass on something they experienced personally to their customers through their products and sharing that story, or creating a local community where their business is based.
Small businesses should think about how they share their purpose online, and scale that way. Local communities can be built through digital platforms. Technology is making it easier than ever to grow as an independent business and maintain authenticity.
Patisserie Valerie lost its atmosphere when it became just another chain restaurant with a vague ‘Belgian patisserie’ theme