Malcolm Walker’s surprise offer for Woolworths with backing from Baugur gave the group’s shares a fillip on Monday.

However, the stock was down week-on-week, as analysts questioned the retailer’s prospects in the absence of a deal.

Numis analyst Nick Coulter, advising hold, said: “Steve Johnson faces the stiffest of challenges. Contingent on the severity of the downturn, Woolies may rue a lost opportunity next year.”

Shore Capital’s John Stevenson, also suggesting hold, said: “We would be surprised to see Woolworths transform its fortunes in its current form. Whatever Johnson brings, investors will need to wait over 15 months to measure success.”

Seymour Pierce’s Freddie George noted: “Shareholders will put management under severe pressure to look at the potential of selling the retailing operations.”