Administrators appointed last night to try to rescue Woolworths say several parties have already come forward with a view to buying parts of the business.
“In the last 24 hours we have received expressions of interest from a number of parties for both the retail and wholesale businesses,” said Dan Butters, a partner at administrator Deloitte.
“We are working hard to ensure that any sale of the business, in whole or part, will preserve jobs.”
The 99-year-old high street retailer collapsed yesterday, as plummeting sales, cash flow problems exacerbated by the withdrawal of credit insurance to its suppliers, and a £385m debt burden took their toll.
Last-ditch talks about a deal with restructuring specialist Hilco, which would have seen Woolworths sell its shops for a nominal £1, also broke down.
The jobs of some 30,000 employees of Woolworths are now at stake. Deloitte says the stores will remain open until after Christmas but warns that there are likely to be many closures subsequently.
Woolworths has over 800 outlets in the UK, which are now almost certain to be the focus of some aggressive price-slashing activity.