The race is on to start selling Woolworths’ 800-strong stores portfolio ahead of the next rent bill which is due by Christmas.

Retailers from ASDA to Iceland have voiced some interest, while discount chains Aldi and Lidl are also looking to expand aggressively.

Yesterday afternoon the administrators appointed CBRE to sell the stores in what is expected to be a quick process.

Malcolm Walker, chief executive of Iceland, said that he would be interested in buying a tranche of stores.

The retailer, which in September fronted a consortium led by Baugur, had offered about £50m for the stores but that approach was swiftly rejected by Woolworths’ board.

Financial Times