Former owner in last-ditch attempt to save Woolies

Former Woolworths chief executive Sir Geoff Mulcahy will tomorrow talk to Ardeshir Naghshineh, Woolworths' biggest shareholder before the company collapsed, over a possible 11th-hour rescue plan, which is scheduled to shut its doors for the final time in less than three weeks.

Sir Geoff, who launched a fierce broadside last week against Deloitte, the administrator, describing its handling of the process as "disgraceful", will meet with Mr Naghshineh, the property entrepreneur who owns the Centrepoint building in the West End.

A source close to the pair said: "The reality is that most people are keen to keep Woolies alive, no matter how improbable it seems at the moment. The chances of anything happening remain slim but it's worth a shot."

It is thought that Mr Naghshineh has been in discussion with the office of Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, to secure bailout funding for Woolworths. Conversations with banks about possible financing are also continuing.

Deloitte said last Thursday that all of Woolworths' 807 stores would cease trading by 5 January, with the loss of more than 27,000 jobs.

Some 207 stores were scheduled to close this weekend and a further 200 will shut on 30 December, another 200 on 2 January and the remaining 200 on 5 January, when the doors will close on the 99-year-old company for the last time.

Sir Geoff, who led a consortium buyout of Woolworths in 1982, said last week: "The whole thing is disgraceful. There are a lot of losers in the situation. The whole administrative process needs to be looked at as there are two businesses here that could have been made profitable."

Rumours have suggested that Deloitte, whose effort is being led by partner Neville Khan, could pocket as much as £40m from the administration, depending on the way in which it has been structured.

Deloitte has devoted 100 staff to Woolies, with some estimates suggesting that the firm could charge as much as £22,000 an hour. Mr Khan said that 500 former suppliers to Woolworths and EUK, its distribution arm, had made claims for money from the administrators.

Sources close to the administration process have suggested that the company's biggest creditor, Burdale, a subsidiary of the Bank of Ireland that, with GMAC, lent Woolworths £385m in January, had been listening to offers of 70p in the pound on its portion of the debt. A spokesman for Burdale declined to comment.

The administrator said last week it was in advanced talks to sell 300 of the company's sites, adding that there had been interest in the other 500.

The food retailer Iceland, led by Malcolm Walker, the man who tabled a £50m bid to buy Woolworths last August but was rebuffed by chairman Richard North, has agreed terms on 50 of the Woolworths stores.

Interest for the sites has also come from Asia, Africa and the Americas, Mr Khan said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there