THE race to rescue troubled McColl's could be over as a supermarket giant has reportedly sealed a last-ditch deal.

It is understood that Morrisons is the preferred bidder to buy the convenience store chain after the news emerged last week that it was on the brink of collapse.

McColl's has shops in Crichton Avenue, Clifton, Hamilton Drive West, Acomb, Gale Lane, Acomb, Moorcroft Road, Woodthorpe, and Oak Tree Lane and The Village in Haxby as well as stores in Selby, North Duffield and Bubwith.

A bidding war ensued over the weekend, with both Morrisons and EG Group -  the petrol forecourts operator owned by the Blackburn-based billionaire Issa Brothers who also own Asda - filing final offers for the corner shop empire on Sunday.No formal annoucement has been made but it is being widely reported that Morrisons triumphed.

McColl's was poised to be put into administration as soon as today but, if the deal is successful, the businenss would immediately be sold to the new owner.

McColl’s confirmed last Thursday that its future was in doubt, putting the future of its 1,100 shops and 16,000 employees at risk.

Trustees of the McColl's pension schemes wrote to the Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, appealing for him to make sure pension scheme members were protected.

It is understood the winning offer from Morrisons, Britain’s fourth biggest grocer, will protect all McColl's stores and workforce, and take on responsibility for the company's pension scheme which has 2,000 members. 

The two businesses are already major partners, with McColl’s operating hundreds of convenience shops under the Morrisons Daily brand.

The deal will be structured as a so-called 'pre-pack administration', so that Morrisons will buy the London-listed McColl's immediately after it enters insolvency proceedings.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is overseeing the  insolvency proceedings, and is expected to make an announcement later today, Monday.

McColl's has struggled financially in recent years due to soaring costs due to supply chain disruption, inflation and its large debt burden.

As previously reported, on Thursday evening, McColl’s said it was in talks over “potential financing solutions” to resolve its funding issues.

“However, whilst no decision has yet been made, McColl’s confirms that unless an alternative solution can be agreed in the short term, it is increasingly likely that the group would be placed into administration with the objective of achieving a sale of the group to a third-party purchaser and securing the interests of creditors and employees,” it added.

“Even if a successful outcome is achieved, it is likely to result in little or no value being attributed to the group’s ordinary shares.”Shares in McColl’s were suspended last week after the company delayed the publication of its latest financial results due to its financing talks.

More to follow.