Woolworths’ largest shareholder has branded yesterday’s closure of the chain as “unnecessary” and lambasted the retailer’s management and administrator Deloitte for allowing it to fail.

Iranian property tycoon Ardeshir Naghshineh, who owned a 10 per cent stake in the company said it was a “terrible shame that money is being found” to pay Deloitte and its advisor Hilco, “while 30,000 staff are losing their jobs”.

Naghshineh said: “This did not have to happen. Woolworths could have had a future.”

He added that prior to the company falling into administration, he “tried to talk” to Woolworths’ chief executive Steve Johnson, but said Johnson did “not turn up for a meeting with us”.

Woolworths declined to comment but it is thought Johnson met Naghshineh on a regular basis.

Naghshineh added: “We asked for help from Peter Mandelson, which was not forthcoming. It is hardly impressive that the shop leases which experts commissioned by us valued at around£400 million are now practically worthless.”