Kwik Save has denied it is refusing staff hardship loans on the grounds that they are not hard-up enough - though workers have not been paid for more than a fortnight.

Some workers said they had been offered the loans by management - only to be turned down when they asked for them. One worker told the Sunderland Echo: "Some of us have not been allowed the loans because managers say the circumstances are not serious enough."

A spokeswoman for Kwik Save said loans had been arranged for staff but insisted the retailer was not aware of any refusals.

Unions said staff still working in stores had not been paid for two weeks, while those who had lost their jobs had not received redundancy payments.

A hearing to decide whether to allow a refinancing of the company was postponed and, as The Grocer went to press, was due to take place on Friday.