Newagent chain McColls has reportedly been bought by supermarket giant Morrisons, having been put into administration, with the threat of thousands of jobs being lost and all its stores closed.
It has been reported that two bidders – Morrisons and the EG Group, owned by the billionaire Issa brothers who also own Asda – were locked in a battle.
But Morrisons, which has stores in Kirkby, Mansfield, and Mansfield Woodhouse, has won out.
Bosses said all McColl's staff will keep their jobs as the firm's shops transfer to the new owner, while Morrisons will take over the company's two pension schemes.
The convenience chain, which has stores on Kingsway and Walesby Drive in Kirkby, fell into administration on Friday, plunging the future of its 1,160 shops and 16,000 staff into doubt.
It came after the UK's fourth-largest supermarket chain and forecourt giant EG Group both tabled final offers on Sunday to secure a rescue deal for McColl's.
EG had initially been favourites to complete a rescue deal for McColl's.
Morrisons' early approaches had reportedly been rejected by lenders who preferred EG's offer to instantly repay more than £160 million in debts from McColl's.
However, it is understood Morrisons' successful move will also repay the lenders in cash.
In a statement after the deal was announced, it said ‘the secured lenders and preferential creditors will be paid in full with a distribution also expected to unsecured creditors’.
Morrisons had also originally proposed to only save the ‘majority’ of job and stores, but improved this offer during the bidding process.
The supermarket said: “All McColl's colleagues will be transferred with the McColl's business to Morrisons.”
David Potts, Morrisons chief executive, said: "Although we are disappointed the business was put into administration, we believe this is a good outcome for McColl's and all its stakeholders.
“This transaction offers stability and continuity for the McColl's business and, in particular, a better outcome for its colleagues and pensioners.
“We all look forward to welcoming many new colleagues into the Morrisons business and to building on the proven strength of the Morrisons Daily format."
A spokesman for the McColl's pension schemes said: “The trustees welcome the announcement that Morrisons will continue to support the schemes following its acquisition of the McColl's business.
“The trustees will continue to engage with all stakeholders to ensure that members' benefits are protected following the completion of the transaction.”
McColl's filed a notice to appoint administrators from PwC last Friday and formally entered administration on Monday.
Morrisons is currently McColl's wholesale supply partner and was expected to immediately terminate its deal with the convenience chain if the takeover move proved unsuccessful
McColl's also runs about 270 stores under the Morrisons Daily brand.
It is understood administrators were favourable to deal with Morrisons because the Bradford-based supermarket was one of McColl's biggest creditors.
The deal comes less than a year after Morrisons itself was bought for £7 billion by US private equity company Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.
McColl's collapse has come after a financial struggle over the past two years as it witnessed soaring costs due to supply chain disruption, inflation and its large debt burden.