A second last-minute bid has been launched to save stricken retailer Wilko, according to reports.
Wilko tumbled into administration two weeks ago, putting the future of its 400 shops in doubt.
Administrators from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have sought offers from interested firms in an effort to save jobs and stores.
A second last-minute bid worth £90 million has been made by restructuring specialist M2 Capita, the Guardian reported, which could keep the entire Wilko chain trading.
The GMB union, which represents more than 3,000 of Wilko’s 12,500 staff, said it had been told the high street chain plans to close stores next week and will announce a raft of redundancies.
PwC said talk of Mr Putman’s bid was “speculation”.
A spokesperson said: “Since our appointment as administrators of Wilko, we have worked relentlessly to secure a sale of the business, and talks are continuing with a number of parties.
“As administrators we’re intent on achieving the best outcome for everyone involved while preserving as many jobs as possible and adhering to our statutory duty to act in the best interests of the creditors as a whole.
“It would be inappropriate to comment on individual bidders or interested parties at this stage in the process.”
Wilko fell into administration earlier this month more than 90 years after the chain began as a single hardware shop in Leicester.
Founded by James Kemsey Wilkinson in 1930, the company’s first store opened on Charnwood Street under the Wilkinson Cash Stores brand.