Page last updated at 14:32 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Woolworths in stores sale talks

Woolworths branch
Woolworths has been a presence on UK High Streets for nearly 100 years

Troubled retailer Woolworths has confirmed that it is in talks about a possible sale of its retail business.

The retailer did not identify who it was talking to, but the Times reported it was considering a sale to turnaround specialists Hilco for a nominal 1.

The chain has suffered as the economic slowdown has hit consumer spending.

In August it rejected a takeover bid of 50m for its 815 stores from a group headed by the founder of the Iceland frozen food chain, Malcolm Walker.

Woolworths shares were suspended briefly at the start of trading pending the announcement about the talks.

Its shares closed down 1.4 pence, or 58%, at 2.4 pence. Their value has fallen 83% over the last year.

Growing problems

The well-known retailer has been struggling for some time as competition from more specialist outlets, large supermarkets and the internet has forced down sales.

Woolworths announced a record first-half pre-tax loss of 90.8 million in September and scrapped its dividend to shareholders.

Woolworths has been a presence on the UK High Street since its first shop opened in Liverpool in 1909. It also has a distribution business and a DVD publishing business.

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