Whittard on the boil

The tea and coffee company has received an undisclosed offer from an unnamed private equity firm.

Whittard, the Chelsea-based tea and coffee company, has revealed it has received an offer from an unnamed private equity firm. It is not known how much the offer is worth.

Shares in Whittard have rocketed to 37p from Friday’s close of 27.5p on the news. Chairman Will Hobhouse holds 26 per cent of the stock. A further 20 per cent is owned by the previous chairman David Gyle-Thompson, who is still on the board.

Whittard has been in the red since its heavy investment in e-commerce sites Bestofbritish.com and Whittard.com, which came to about £1.3m.

Investors have become sceptical about internet commerce across the board and Whittard has not escaped unscathed. Its shares are today worth about a tenth of their value in 1998, when they rose as high as 244p.

Whittard has a stock market valuation of £8.3 million. Analysts have forecast losses of between £1m and £1.4m this year. The company has about £1 million in cash.

Internet incubator fund Ant Factory, which has a 17 per cent stake worth £1.9m in Whittard, is acting as the company’s financial adviser.