Theo Paphitis, owner of Ryman, said he wants to keep the Woolworths name alive and that a speedy resolution to talks on the rescue of the variety retailer is “absolutely crucial”.

Paphitis has been in talks with Woolworths' administrator over the weekend, after the retailer fell into administration last Wednesday.

In a statement Paphitis confirmed he is in discussions with administrator Deloitte, but has stressed he is “just one of a number of players in the high-profile rescue”.

He said: “I have a great belief in the Woolworths brand and would love to see the name remain on British high streets, whether our business discussions are successful or not.

“It is too early to even speculate about our chances of taking control of the high street stores because our team of retail experts are going through all kinds of checks and balances to make sure that we understand the true value of what's on offer.

“If we were successful in our negotiations, then it would be my priority to safeguard the future of as many of the business's employees as possible. I would want to keep the Woolworths name alive as it is held with such deep affection and I would of course want to keep trading as many of the high street stores as possible. In order to do this, a speedy resolution is absolutely crucial.”

Paphitis is one of several players interested in Woolworths, including stakeholder Ardeshir Nagshineh and Tony Page, who runs the retailer's stores division.