Bidders Circle Troubled Woolworths

LONDON (Reuters) – Deloitte LLP, the administrator of the retail and distribution businesses of British retailer Woolworths Group Plc (WLW.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), has received dozens of inquiries from companies and individuals for parts of the business, according to newspaper reports on Sunday.

Property magnate Ardeshir Naghshineh, who owns 10 percent of the retailer, is understood to be one of those interested in the whole group. He plans to turn it into an employee-owned business, according to the Sunday Times.

Naghshineh said on Wednesday he was “deeply disappointed” that the company had gone into administration. He had outlined a plan which would see Woolworths sell leases to bring in cash.

Entrepreneur Theo Paphitis, best known for turning around faltering retailers and for his role on BBC TV show ‘Dragon’s Den’ is also understood to be considering a bid.

A spokesperson for Deloitte, part of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu DLTE.UL, confirmed that face to face talks with parties interested in buying both the retail and wholesale businesses had taken place on Friday.

These included those interested in buying the stores as a going concern, he said.

Talks will continue on Monday, added the spokesperson.

The Observer said Deloitte had been “inundated” with proposals for various parts of the business. Around ten of these are considered to be serious or significant buyers.

The well known high street chain, which sells everything from sweets and childrens clothes to DVDs and stationery, put its retail and distribution businesses into administration on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Rosalba O’Brien; Editing by Richard Hubbard)