Malcolm Walker, who six months ago offered to buy all Woolworths' stores, has submitted a fresh bid for 50 stores and said it was doubtful the brand would survive.

As The Grocer went to press, administrator Deloitte had yet to decide how to break up the business, which went into administration last week with debts of £385m.

Dozens of retailers including the multiples had put in bids to buy some of its 815 stores but there were also other bids to run it as a going concern, Deloitte added.

But Walker said it would need a lot of money to rescue Woolworths. "We were previously interested in running it as Woolies but it would take too much money now and no one has any and no one wants to lend it," he said.

A number of suppliers are owed money and are not hopeful of being repaid. Candyking, which supplied all Woolworths' pick and mix, had lost "a significant amount" but had been given a contract to supply the administrator until Christmas.

Woolworths is its biggest customer and MD Graham Richardson said it may have to restructure its business if it loses all Woolworths' custom.

Zetar, which supplied Woolworths with chocolate novelty items, is owed £970,000 excluding VAT.