Richard Rose claimed today to have turned around specialist tea and coffee retailer Whittard of Chelsea in just five months under his stewardship.

The loss making company saw HI losses narrow from £1.7m (US$2.4m) in 2000 to £845,000; sales were meanwhile up to £15.7m from £15.5m.

Rose, who was appointed last August, posted like-for-like sales up 7.7% for the weeks since the group began its second financial half-year on 25 November. Profit margins are also on the rise, he said.