Woolworths announced that it had asked the stock exchange to suspend trading ‘pending the outcome of discussions’.

Talks to save the retailer, have been going on for the past few days as the board of Woolworths tries to persuade its lenders to back a restructuring plan that would see its loss-making retail chain sold to restructuring specialists Hilco and its stake in DVD publisher 2entertain sold to BBC Worldwide, its partner in the joint venture.

The sale to Hilco would save the business from entering administration.