Multiples are better placed than pound shops and discounters to win Woolworths' £2.7bn of sales, say researchers.

With non-food sales flagging since the economic downturn, said Colin Harper, MD of Storecheck Marketing, the best-positioned retailer was Tesco, with 619 Woolworths stores within a two-minute drive of a Tesco store. Second-best was Sainsbury's (409), while Morrisons (230) and Asda (193) followed.

"There are a lot of Woolworths customers, particularly young families, who have lost their favourite store and are looking around for somewhere else," he said.

"The big supermarkets are in the best place to offer that service."

However, Poundland, 99p Stores and other variety retailers and discounters could also stand to benefit as they offer a similar product range.