Tea specialist Whittard of Chelsea has appointed former Molton Brown chief executive Sara Halton as managing director as the retailer looks to expand.

Halton has also held senior positions at defunct book chain Borders UK and fashion retailer Monsoon.

Whittard said like-for-like sales are up 5% in the calendar year to date and is looking to grow the business after completing the first phase of its turnaround plan under owner Epic, the private equity firm.

Whittard went bust in 2008 when Icelandic investment firm Baugur imploded. Epic then bought Whittard out of administration.

Mike Taylor, currently managing director of both Whittard and sister chain gift retailer Past Times, said that after a two-year turnaround plan Whittard now has a “clear brand positioning in the UK”.

Taylor, who will remain Past Times’ boss, added: “The brand has significant growth potential.”

Whittard operates 76 stores in the UK and 30 international franchise stores across seven countries.