Poundworld founder Chris Edwards, who wants to buy back the retailer, has accused administrator Deloitte of making a rescue deal more difficult by “wasting time”.

Edwards, who left Poundworld after private equity group TPG took a majority stake in 2015, still hopes to acquire the business but claimed Deloitte has not taken his interest sufficiently seriously.

He said despite tabling a deal to save 186 stores four weeks ago, he has only been given permission in the last few days to assess stock levels and talk to Poundworld’s bank, Santander.

He said: “It’s really sad to see the demise of Poundworld, which was a highly profitable and thriving business when we sold it, but it’s been mismanaged and lost its way.

“I can’t sit back and do nothing as so many people, lots of whom I know personally, risk losing their jobs. I firmly believe the firm could still be saved with a new management team, fresh stock and by turning the retailer back into a single-price, traditional, pound shop, rather than selling multi-price products.

“In my opinion, the whole administration process has been handled badly. I contacted the administrator four weeks ago and was just paid lip service until everyone else they were talking to about saving Poundworld had walked away.

“The process has taken so long that the shops are now holding closing down sales and selling stock that isn’t being replenished, so with every day that passes, the task of saving the business becomes more difficult and puts another nail in the coffin.

“Although reviving the business will be a huge task, key members of our old management team are prepared to return and if we get it right we can save 3,000 jobs, but the clock’s ticking.

“If something doesn’t happen in the next few days, the business will go to the wall, which is so unnecessary when we have the desire and ability to save it.”

Deloitte said: “The administrators continue to seek a buyer of all or parts of the business. To date no party has presented a credible and acceptable bid with accompanying confirmation of funding.

”We have provided guidance to indicate how a successful bid might be structured and have provided detailed information to assist bidders in an effort to help them wherever possible. In the interim, as one would expect in these circumstances, we are preparing for all eventualities as this process continues.”