Paphitis is a dab hand at reviving troubled brands. He reversed the fortunes of La Senza and the stationary chain Rymans. But the Woolworths job is just too big for the Dragon.
"Unfortunately, the constituent parts of Woolworths are more valuable than the whole," he said in a statement. "The administrators have a difficult job to do and I appreciate that they need to get the highest cash value for the business.
"I hope that an alternative proposal succeeds in securing the future for the many Woolworths employees involved," he added.
Paphitis was among a number of bidders hoping to save the 100-year old brand. Woolworths’ largest shareholder, Ardeshir Naghshineh, has also been preparing a bid, while retail giants Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, the Co-op and discount chain Poundland have been sniffing around Woolworths’ prime retail spaces on the high street.
The future of the firm remains uncertain as Woolworths’ operations go into administration. There are 30,000 jobs at risk.