Angry Woolworths’ grocery suppliers have been told by administrators they are “highly unlikely” to get paid.

Administrator Deloitte has launched an investigation after creditors complained that the company should have been put into administration sooner. It revealed that the retail arm had been forecast to make a loss of £50m in the year ending 31 January 2009.

“There is a lot of anger about the way we have been treated by Wool­worths,” said one supplier. “If they were making such a big loss why did they carry on trading? We haven’t got trade credit insurance and have lost a lot of money owed to us.”

Another supplier said his business would make a loss of £3m in 2009 because of the money owed by Woolworths. “They were our biggest customer and to have lost them is a major blow,” said the company’s boss.

A source close to the Woolworths board said it was confident it had acted in the best interests of shareholders and stakeholders.

Deloitte also revealed that it had sold 141 leaseholds to stores and was waiting to complete on 55 more. It hoped to sell a further 100 stores, which means that about 500 leaseholds will be returned to landlords. Eleven freeholds have yet to be sold.