Walker, who runs Flintshire-based Iceland – a business he founded in the seventies and reacquired in 2005 after quitting four years earlier – made a formal approach to Woolworths chairman Richard North three weeks ago.
He is thought to have offered less than £50m for Woolworths’ 815 stores, on the condition that the retailer agreed to retain most of its debt and wipe out its pension deficit.
But Woolworths rejected the bid, claiming it was “unacceptable to the board” and that the proposal undervalued its assets.
The retailer’s shareholders aren’t impressed. They’ve seen its shares plunge by more than 80 per cent since the start of last year to as low as 5.4p last month. The shares closed on Friday at 6.65p.