Whittard shares slide 12 per cent after Knight's unsuccessful buyout

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The Independent Online

Whittard of Chelsea, the unprofitable retailer of speciality coffees and teas, yesterday announced its managing director, Richard Knight, had left the company following his failure to take the business private.

The group also said that talks with three other potential bidders had come to nothing because none of the parties offered a price the board thought was high enough for the 115-year-old company.

Will Hobhouse, Whittard's executive chairman, said: "Mr Knight did not offer enough and we were looking for a price substantially above the current share price from all of the bidders in order to provide sufficient value to shareholders."

Mr Knight, who has been on Whittard's board for two years, left the company with immediate effect on Friday and will receive compensation of around £45,000. He will be replaced by Richard Rose, the former chief executive of the retailer WF Electrical.

Mr Hobhouse will also step down from his executive position but will remain as non-executive chairman. He said: "I have been at the company for 13 years. The business now needs to be taken into a new stage and I think it is no bad thing to have new management."

Shares in Whittard fell 12 per cent to 27.5p on market disappointment that the troubled company had not managed to conclude a deal. Yesterday, Whittard said it was committed to remaining as a public company.

Whittard also reported widening annual losses of £2.98m in the year to 31 May, down from £500,000 last year. The company's shares have fallen 16 per cent this year.

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