Grocers, value retailers and fashion players are among those that have agreed deals to take on Woolworths stores.
Of the 815 stores, 300 are understood to have been secured or are under negotiation.
Value player 99p Stores has taken 10 while B&M Bargains and Home Bargains have signed for 20 each. Rival grocers Iceland and Heron Frozen Foods have picked up 51 and between 15 and 20 respectively. Iceland is understood to be eyeing more sites. Sainsbury’s, which wants to bolster its convenience store portfolio, will take five shops and Tesco 20.
Many other retailers, including Wilkinson, Matalan, TK Maxx and Poundland, are understood to be waiting until the leases are returned to their respective landlords to negotiate a better deal, as those landlords are likely to struggle to fill the units. One retailer described the situation as “a Mexican stand-off”.
Sources close to the disposals said a further six packages of stores, comprising between three and 30 units, are still in discussion. But the source said around 500 stores will be returned to landlords if administrator Deloitte fails to assign the leases.
Property agency CB Richard Ellis was appointed by Deloitte to oversee the disposals of the portfolio when Woolworths collapsed in November.
CBRE director Ciaran Bird said: “To have exchanged on about 200 stores within a three-week period sends a very positive message to the market. Although there are 800 stores there’s going to be a number of stores that will revert back to the landlords.
“It’s a big worry for lots of landlords on the high street but there are hundreds of stores where there will be a lot of interest. Retailers will be happy to wait and pay market value when they go back to the landlords.”