UK premium tea and coffee retailer Whittard of Chelsea has said trading in its central London and tourist stores has been materially affected since the July bomb attacks in London.

The company said it now believes this situation is likely to continue for some time and may even adversely affect sales during the important Christmas period.

Overall the company's UK retail sales for the first 12 weeks of the current year are below the board's expectations, something it attributes to the terrorist attacks in London combined with lower footfall at the company's stores located in outlet centres. Whittard also said that whilst the retail climate remains very tough across the UK, like-for-like sales at the company's high street and shopping centre stores are ahead of the corresponding period last year, albeit at a lower gross margin.

On 12 July 2005 the company announced that it had received approaches that may or may not lead to an offer being made for the company. Initial interest was received from overseas companies, but such interest has waned following the London terrorist attacks. However, Whittard said the disclosure of the talks has prompted other parties to express their interest.

"The company continues to be in early stage talks and it is still too early for the board to be able to determine whether or not these discussions will result in any formal offer being made for the company," Whittard said.