The fate of Woolworths is now hanging on a £30 million deal that could see the failed chain stay on the UK high street in 125 stores.

Administrators Deloitte have given a deadline of January 5 for the closure of the remaining Woolworths stores.

If an 11th-hour deal were to be agreed the buyer would be given stores for free but be required to inject£30 million of working capital to pay suppliers and staff.

The deal could mean 125 shops continuing to trade under the Woolworths name. It would also mean that the new owner could re-negotiate leases with its landlords.

This week Sir Geoff Mulcahy held talks with Woolworths' biggest shareholder Ardeshir Naghshineh about a possible last minute rescue deal.

A consortium headed by Woolworths executive Tony Page has also been trying to secure backing to ensure a deal.