Dragons’ Dens Paphitis pulls out of Woolies bid

Dragons’ Den member Theo Paphitis has pulled out of the race to buy parts of troubled retailer Woolworths. The entrepreneur was one of the favourites to take over the company.

Paphitis says he is pulling out of an offer because he has been unable to reach a deal with its administrators.

“Unfortunately, the constituent parts of Woolworths are more valuable than the whole. The administrators have a difficult job to do and I appreciate that they need to get the highest cash value for the business,” Paphitis says.

“I hope that an alternative proposal succeeds in securing the future for the many Woolworths employees involved.”

Administrators from Deloitte said earlier this week that there had been “substantial interest” in the company.

Paphitis was looking at taking over some stores and preserving the Woolworths brand.

The frontrunners for the store are now thought to be Ardeshir Naghshineh, Woolworths’ largest shareholder, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Tesco, the Co-op and discount chain Poundland.

A deal is not expected to be announced immediately and it is unlikely that any one buyer will take control of the entire business.

Woolworths’ retail and wholesale operations went into administration last week, putting the jobs of 30,000 staff at risk. Stores are remaining open until after Christmas, but the company’s website has been suspended and is no longer accepting orders.

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