Kwik Save was placed into administration at the high court in Manchester as The Grocer was going to press on Thursday afternoon. But the exact details of the ruling were not due to be delivered by the judge until Friday at noon.

The future of the company has been hanging in the balance since 15 June, when an administration hearing was first scheduled.

But the court delayed its decision three weeks running in an effort to give management time to put a rescue package together.

Boss Paul Niklas and investor Brendan Murtagh have been locked in discussions to secure a deal that would allow Kwik Save to go into pre-pack administration and immediately re-emerge as Fresh Express.

One company eagerly awaiting the result was Yorkshire-based Staveley Group. It was hoping to pick up a number of leases on Kwik Save stores if the bid for pre-pack administration failed.